Caring for carers

BCMB_SOPH-43Hello and a Happy New Year to you! I hope you enjoyed the festive season. Now that it’s 2015 I’ve found myself reflecting (as we all tend to do after the holidays) on the years gone by and the year ahead, and I’d like to share with you something I’ve been thinking about.

When I was a student with BCMB (Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork), training for my Holistic Massage Diploma, I had to set up a client study group. The purpose of the group was to research a particular demographic in order to develop advice and best practice for other therapists.

I chose to study professional carers, people who made their living by looking after other people. I worked with nurses, mental health practitioners and social workers. Although their average days looked different they all had something in common; because they were used to doing the caring, they were a little less familiar with a space in which they were being cared for.

This showed itself in lots of different ways, from the initial consultation where they would struggle to let their guard down and say what was really going on, how they were really feeling (“Me? Oh I’m fine, can’t complain”), to more physical symptoms like muscular strains and tension.

They often said they had difficulty sleeping or properly ‘switching off’ from work and I noticed during their early treatments that they found it hard to fully relax their bodies, as though they were still holding on to something, perhaps the responsibility of making sure that someone else was OK.

The more I worked with this group the more I realised that many of them had forgotten how to look after themselves, so accustomed were they to putting the needs of others first. But I also found that, over time, they became more and more receptive to letting me in and to letting their guards down.

It was such an inspiration to witness this change because it takes real courage to be vulnerable, especially when you’re so used to being strong and holding the vulnerabilities of others. I was (and still am) honoured to offer a space where carers could leave their brave faces at the door and just be, just let it all go.

These training experiences have really informed my professional practice, which is why I now offer a 20% discount to professional carers. It’s all too easy to forget the importance of self-care, especially when you look after people on a daily basis. But taking good care of you is just as important as taking care of them, perhaps even more so.

Does any of this sound familiar? Perhaps you work in the health or care industry and struggle to find time and space for yourself, time to let yourself be looked after? Or maybe you know someone who fits the bill, someone who works hard for others and could really benefit from a bit of ‘me time’?

If so then please feel free to contact me; it would be my pleasure to offer a discounted treatment to a carer who deserves a break.

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