Here in coastal Virginia, summer brings early sunrises and late sunsets, an onslaught of lightening bugs in the evening, the lingering scent of honeysuckle, and of course, heat and humidity! As life slows down, albeit briefly, I begin to take time to enjoy those things that nourish and renew my spirit – kayaking, backyard barbecues with family and friends, and time at the beach. What nourishes and renews your spirit?
Taking time for spiritual nourishment, physical rest, mental exercise, and general renewal is often referred to as “self-care.” Deborah McElligott defines self-care as, “The process of engaging in health related activities (including health promoting behaviors, feelings, and attitudes) in order to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and enhance balance and wellbeing.” (McElligott, 2013, p. 831) “Self-care may occur throughout the lifespan as one uses compassion-focused awareness, reflective choices, and self-determined actions and behaviors in a meaningful way.” (McElligott, 2015, p. 407) In coaching, self-care is an important concept for both the coach and the client.
As a coaching tool, the concept of self-care can be introduced to a client as an option for growth work. Developing a self-care plan can provide a client with tools to:
- establish positive behaviors
- support desired behavior changes
- reinforce those healthy behaviors already in place
For example, a client who desires to decrease stress might choose to dedicate fifteen minutes on most evenings to sitting quietly while practicing deep, slow breathing or listening to a guided meditation. Explaining that the self-care plan is an on-going work in progress will reassure clients that any activities they choose to try can be modified as needed. A self-care plan can empower a client to make healthier lifestyle choices which provide more balance and harmony in their lives; their mind, body, spirit connection is strengthened.
For the coach, implementation and maintenance of a self-care plan can re-energize or renew one’s ability to serve as a compassionate presence for others. According to Blum (2014), “Self-care is imperative to personal health, sustenance to continue to care for others, and professional growth.” Reflecting on one’s own self-care plan helps a coach to remain present and strengthens the mind, body, spirit connection of the coach. Serving as an example for clients, coaches, too, are in need of increasing the harmony and balance in their own lives in order to effectively coach an awareness into others.
As the summer days lovingly fade over the next couple of months, what thoughts can you give toward your own self-care plan?
Blum, Cynthia. (September 30, 2014). Practicing Self-Care for Nurses: A Nursing Program Initiative. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing,19 (3), Manuscript 3. DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol19No03Man03
McElligott, Deborah. (2013). The Nurse as an Instrument of Healing. In Barbara Montgomery Dossey & Susan Luck (Eds.), Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice 6th Edition (pp. 827-842). Burlington, MA: Jones Bartlett Learning.
McElligott, Deborah. (2015). Nurse Coach Self Development. In Barbara Montgomery Dossey, Susan Luck, & Bonney Gulino Schaub (Eds.), Nurse Coaching Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing (pp. 407-416). North Miami, FL: International Nurse Coach Association.
About the author:
Diane Shaver, RN, MSN, NC-BC, is a Registered Nurse and graduate of the Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy. Diane has over 35 years experience caring for adults and children in acute care hospitals and community health settings focusing on patient education, health promotion, and holistic nursing. http://www.shaverdiane.com