Elements of a Self-Care Protocol – from The Resilient Clinician by Robert J. Wicks

The following is taken from The Resilient Clinician by Robert J. Wicks.  Dr. Wicks writes primarily for psychiatrists and other mental health workers, but his advice is applicable to anyone who works with patients.

There are basic elements of a self-care protocol that most everyone needs to renew themselves on an ongoing basis. It really doesn’t  require too much to take a step back from our work routine to  become refreshed and regain perspective. Some of the basic elements  might include:

• Quiet walks by yourself

• Time and space for meditation

• Spiritual and recreational reading-including the diaries  and biographies of others whom you admire

• Some light exercise

• Opportunities to laugh offered by movies, cheerful  friends, etc.

• A hobby such as gardening

• Phone calls to family and friends who inspire and tease you

• Involvement in projects that renew

• Listening to music you enjoy (Wicks, 2003, p. 50)

Other simple steps at self-care and renewal might be:

• Visiting a park or hiking

• Having family or friends over for dinner or evening coffee

• Going to the library or a mega-bookstore to have coffee,  a scone, and to peruse the magazines

• Shopping for little things that would be fun to have but  not cost a lot

• Taking a bath rather than a quick shower

• Daydreaming

• Forming a “dining club” in which you go out once  a month for lunch with a friend or sibling

• E-mailing friends

• Listening to a mystery book on tape

• Reading poetry out loud

• Staying in bed later than usual on a day off

• Having a leisurely discussion with your spouse over  morning coffee in bed

• Watching an old movie

• Making love with your spouse

• Buying and reading a magazine you have never read before

• Fixing a small garden with bright, cheery flowers

• Telephoning someone you haven’t spoken to in ages

• Buying and playing a new CD by a singer or musician  you love

• Taking a short walk (without listening to music) before  and after work and/or during lunchtime

• Going to a diner and having a cup of tea and a piece  of pie

• Going on a weekend retreat at a local spirituality center or  a hotel on large grounds so you can take out time to walk,  reflect, eat when you want, read as long as you’d like, or  just renew yourself

• Arranging to spend a couple of days by yourself in your  own home without family or friends present just to  lounge around and be alone without a schedule  or the needs or agendas of others

• Getting a cheap copybook and journaling each day as  a way of unwinding

3 thoughts on “Elements of a Self-Care Protocol – from The Resilient Clinician by Robert J. Wicks

  1. I find that if I don’t incorporate meditation and positive readings into my week, my mind starts to deviate down stressful and unpleasant paths.

    It’s so silly sometimes that meditation, which can be done in 5 minute blocks, is so hard to fit into a schedule. I try to take five minutes before and after work to meditate. Dawn Mountain, Joy Yoga, and Cura Yoga (formerly Jenny Yoga) all have hour long meditation classes. Houston Zen center also has an introduction to meditation series (though it’s not my favorite venue).

    I also find that reading wise words helpful. My best friend just sent me Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh (as I love reading Buddhist writings) and even a chapter or two in, I feel the stressful, competitive, angry thoughts melting away from my mind and body.

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