A Win-Win: Self-Care Enables the Care of Others
by Virgin Pulse on April 2, 2021
With spring in the air, so is a sense of freshness and renewal, which also invites a desire for personal renewal. As more and more people are vaccinated and COVID restrictions ease in some parts of the world, this too is reigniting motivation for healthier choices. Virgin Pulse Coaches and Guides recognize the importance of stepping back for a broad view of overall health and wellbeing. From there, they can easily notice what may be calling for change in a healthier direction. Pursuant to our whole person approach, focusing on self-care related to emotional, as well as physical health is pivotal to stress resilience and ultimately moves us toward a healthier, happier life.
For many though, when faced with the competing demands of work, family responsibilities, household needs, caregiving responsibilities, and more, self-care is often viewed as the lowest hanging fruit to de-prioritize. What our always-on, busy-badge-of-honor culture prevents us from seeing is that ditching self-care is an insidious disservice to our overall wellbeing.
Virgin Pulse Coaches and Guides not only recognize the importance of self-care, they’re skilled at empowering and enabling their participants to cultivate self-care practices that fit with their unique lifestyle.
The Harvard Business Review notes some helpful strategies:
- Stay Connected – socializing and connecting with family, friends, coworkers, etc. fosters well-being by increasing our sense of belonging; directing our energy toward others. If COVID restrictions still prevail where you are, get creative with the many virtual ways to connect with others.
- Find Ways to Relax - meditation, yoga, journaling, taking a bath or walking in nature. Do something you enjoy every day, such as dancing, watching a favorite TV show, working in the garden, painting, or reading.
- Ask for help when you need it - people are happy to support you; you simply need to ask! Support can come from our partners, parents, children, friends, and co-workers.
- Look for the Positive – we all need some encouragement and affirmation from time to time, so express appreciation, give compliments, and call out triumphs, regardless how small they might be. If you see something good, speak up about it.
- Live in alignment with your core values - living a purpose-filled life is fundamental to the human experience and vitally important for overall health, wholeness, and wellbeing. For some, aligning to core values and uncovering purpose lies in making a positive impact on the world. Whatever the genesis may be, purpose provides direction and meaning. Knowing our purpose and living it empowers us to focus on what is profoundly important, and to question what is not; thus, maintaining a healthy physical and emotional balance.
The last strategy, living in alignment with your core values for a purpose-filled life, can often feel elusive. To bring to life the power of aligning core values to goals for self-care, Health Coach, Martie, expands on this connection with an inspiring participant story.
This past year has been especially challenging to stay connected to others. As I coach on a daily basis, I often hear members speak of the isolation, loneliness, and “silo effect” that COVID-19 has had on our collective emotional health. During our sessions, I strive to empower our members to focus on self-care (filling their cup) and living a purposeful life in line with their core values (emptying their cup in meaningful ways).
According to Dr. Waguih William Ishak, a professor of psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai, studies have linked random acts of kindness to the release of several chemicals in the brain. These include oxytocin, which promotes a feeling of belonging and trust; dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain that can increase a feeling “of euphoria, known as a “helper’s high;” and finally, serotonin, which helps to balance our mood.
For a powerful example of “paying it forward”, a member recently shared during a coaching session, “I need to focus on my physical health, because I’m in the process of donating a kidney.” When I asked her who it was for out of her family and friends, to my surprise, she responded, “I’m donating it to the National Kidney Registry. It’s a non-directed donation to whomever might need it. I don’t know who the recipient will be. I’m excited to see who my match will be! This is something I have always wanted to do. My 50th birthday is coming up and I said to myself: ‘What can I do to make a difference in someone else’s life, to give back for all that I have received?’”
To say I was inspired by the overwhelming generosity of this woman is an understatement! She chose to donate a perfectly healthy kidney to a stranger; to give the gift of a healthier life to someone she’s never even met. It’s such a poignant reminder that we are all connected, that we need one another, and we have so much to give and receive from one another. In this season of renewal, I invite all who read this to make your own self-care a priority, and to think about ways you can “pay it forward” by performing random acts of kindness–mailing a card to someone to let them know you care about them, having a favorite meal delivered to someone who is sick, paying for coffee for someone in line behind you, giving the closer parking spot to someone else—the opportunities are endless. As Dr. IsHak states, "The rewards of acts of kindness are many. They help us feel better and they help those who receive them. We're building better selves and better communities at the same time."
Learn more about VP Live
VP Live Coaching features a whole person approach that blends lifestyle optimization with specialization in an industry-leading 22 conditions, providing total population health management that helps the healthy stay healthy, improves clinical outcomes, and reduces costs associated with chronic conditions. Members access coaching resources directly through their app and once paired with a coach, they identify their goals for a thriving life and work together to progress toward their vision and achieve their targeted outcomes. To learn more about VP Live, reach out to your Client Success team.
Also part of the VP Live product suite, Next-Steps Consult helps members get the most out of their wellbeing program. It is a concierge-style conversation between member and Health Guide, focused on determining a member’s first or next step in their wellbeing journey and personalized guidance of all that Virgin Pulse and employer benefits have to offer. Our Health Guides uncover the best route for a member based on their health status, motivators and obstacles, with deep knowledge of client programs and resources.
About the Author:
Martie B. Granieri, RN, BSN-BC, NBC-HWC | Martie is a Board-Certified Nurse with a specialty Certification in Mental Health, Child Care Health Consultant, and National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach. She worked for 25 years in both clinical and community health settings providing crisis intervention triage, in-patient and intensive outpatient case management, consultant for best practice in long term care facilities, and community health education. She has a passion for health coaching, which she views as a health promotion model. This approach empowers individuals to recognize their own self-care needs and adopt behavior patterns that move them toward a healthier and happier life.
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