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Self-Care: Navigating Boundaries

There has been an increase in conversations lately around mental health and what self-care looks like. I have been determined to continue pursuing different ways that I can incorporate self-care into my daily routine as well as in my work environment. I work for an LGBT organization that tends to the needs of the community. These needs include things like HIV prevention, housing case-management, employment assistance, mental health, and food.

I can honestly say that sometimes working with the community can be triggering at times for many individuals. There can be times when you speak to a client about what they are going through, which may have been something that you had to deal with in the past or are still going through. These types of things can include sexual or domestic abuse, a HIV diagnosis, or even homelessness.

Navigating triggers and boundaries

With all that, we need to focus on ourselves and make sure that we are confident enough to provide services for the community. I believe that as a healthcare provider, it is harmful to help someone else with their traumas or barriers if you have not overcome that barrier in life yourself. For example, if I was still dealing with my HIV diagnosis and could not accept that, then I should not be disclosing someone else’s status to them during a counseling session. I feel that if I did not have a grasp on my own diagnosis, then how could I possibly make someone else feel comfortable in their own acceptance? I feel that my reaction to their news would come off very biased.

Balancing work and personal well-being

I have been trying to take more time off work to provide myself with more self-care opportunities. As of lately, I have been taking more extended vacations as well as using my sick days when I need to. I recently realized that I enjoy going on long car rides with my partner by the ocean. During these car rides we talk about our families, life goals, and possible new adventures to share. I have also been removing myself from work during my lunch break. I would always eat my lunch and then sit at my desk or in the break room the remaining time. Now instead of doing that, I try and go for a walk or a drive near my work.

Creating space for self-care at work

Throughout my day as a supervisor, I make sure to remind my staff to take all their breaks. During each Monday check-in I ask all my team how they are feeling that week and if anyone needs time off. I make sure to let them know that they all have vacation and sick time that is accrued so they should take the opportunity to use it. I give all my team the opportunity to be open and honest with me about what is going on in their life. Open and honest about things that my affect the work that they do with community. I give them an outlet to step back and let another step in for them if needed.

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