Embracing Self-Care

In my previous blog, I reflected on my first six months in NHC Philadelphia. I discussed the different socioeconomic and health disparities that surround my position as a patient advocate, as well as how NHC has solidified my dreams of one day becoming a nurse and eventually a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. I will always be thankful for this year of learning and growing to figure out how I want to serve the community. NHC has provided us with many invaluable experiences.

Unexpectedly, another skill I developed this year was learning how to balance self care with working full time. Many members serving with NHC Philadelphia are fresh out of college and this is our first experience with a 9 to 5 position. That transition is difficult enough, but especially when  serving underserved populations, it can be hard to remember to be an active participant in your self-care. Once we take care of  the mundane everyday necessities like washing clothes, making lunch, and cleaning the bathroom, little time remains for fun and relaxation. There are other avenues that are important to work on when at home and on the weekend, so you are ready to go back to service feeling rejuvenated.

During the cold days of winter with shorter hours of daylight there was not much I felt like doing after service, and this left me feeling a little despondent. Usually I enjoyed going for a walk after service, but once it got cold and dark I did not want to be outside. Well, I quickly remedied this by picking out new recipes to cook every week. By the time I was home I was excited to cook for two hours and try new foods.  While cooking I would listen to music or speak with a loved one on the phone.  I found joy in my new routine and I felt happy each night when I went to sleep. Another activity I added was practicing yoga in my bedroom. This was beneficial because I was working out and getting some exercise. However I felt I did not get the full meditative and relaxation benefits from yoga in my bedroom. Halfway through the year I braved the elements and I started going to yoga studios instead of my bedroom. This was definitely a time when the extra expense was well worth it for my mental health! 

I am grateful that Sara and Caitlynn spent the time to talk to us about self-care and emphasize the need to make time for ourselves so we can continue to enjoy our service. Social workers and medical professionals face the real risk of burning out, so it is especially important for members to work on developing and maintaining effective self-care routines. 

This past week I traveled to Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle.  This trip rejuvenated my love for travel, visiting new places, and meeting new people. Once again it reminded me that you need to plan time and save money so you can do the things you love in order to keep doing the work you love.

This blog post was written by NHC Philadelphia member Michelle Clifford.
Michelle serves as a Patient Advocate at Philadelphia Department of Public Health-Ambulatory Health Services: Health Center 5.