Healer, heal thyself
Program urges health care givers to take time, care for themselves
ealth care workers can’t continue to be good caregivers if they don’t learn how to care for themselves, author and motivational speaker LeAnn Thieman is telling the staff at Community Hospital.
As part of a yearlong program, Thieman is helping medical staff and other caregivers at the hospital learn techniques designed to improve their own health and mental state of mind as a way of helping them help others.
“As I travel this country talking to health care givers, I’m more convinced than ever that we’re so busy taking care of other people, we don’t always take good care of ourselves,” she said at a recent session with staff.
Thieman is co-author of some of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, which were first published by motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.
The series is part of Cos Cob, a Connecticut-based publishing, consumer goods and media company that has even branched out into pet issues and television programming.
For Thieman’s part, her program is called SelfCare for HealthCare. It is specifically aimed at giving health care workers ideas on how to improve their own health and mental state so they can continue to provide care, which oftentimes can be stressful depending on their patients’ medical conditions.
“We have to be strong in mind, body and spirit, and to be strong in these ways we have to nurture ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually every day,” said Thieman, a licensed practical nurse and co-author of more than a dozen books.
“We can’t just wait for weekends to catch up. We need to take time, even if it’s in 15-minute increments, to nurture our bodies, minds and spirits.”
The program calls for Community Hospital workers to practice a new self-help technique each month for the next year. Those techniques include positive thinking, laughing and learning how to forgive yourself and others.
Each chapter starts out with a few anecdotes from Thieman’s experience in 1975 helping to airlift orphaned children from Southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam War.
Thieman, who ended up adopting one of those children, said that experience taught her a lot about what she’s teaching now.
“On those days you think, ‘I wonder if my little part is really worth it all,’ ” she said. “I’m here to remind you, yes it is because everything you do makes a difference more than you’ll ever know.”
The program was provided by Chris Thomas, president and chief executive officer of the hospital, and its Reward, Recognition, Recruitment and Retention Committee, as a “gift” to all hospital workers for their efforts in relocating the medical center to its new digs at 2351 G Road, and for their continued work in helping patients.