In reading the Hospice Foundation of America December 2014 e-newsletter, I was captivated by the article "A Resolution Worth Exploring". I hope you will be, too!
A Resolution Worth Exploring As you ponder resolutions for [the new year], taking better care of yourself professionally should be close to the top of the list. Ronald Epstein, MD, professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, practicing palliative care doc, and published researcher on self-care, says such things as getting rest, eating well, getting exercise, taking vacations, and spending time with family are great to do but don't necessarily translate into better care for patients. Instead, Epstein suggests learning skills that promote mindfulness. What does Epstein mean by mindfulness? "I guess you would say mindfulness is an attitude of mind and mindful practice is what you do in everyday work," he says. "If you are practicing mindfully, you are aware of your own reactions, you are aware of the dynamics in the family, you are aware of how this is affecting you, you are able to monitor the way that you react and also to regulate your own reactions to stressful circumstances so that actions are better aligned with your values." This informs hospice chaplaincy in that if we are practicing our discipline mindfully, we will be self-aware, aware of the family dynamics around us, how our work affects us (positively and negatively), and how we respond to the stressful circumstances surrounding the hospice environment. Living and practicing our ministry means we do not deny our emotions or reactions and seek feedback from colleagues when we feel a bit off balance. I urge hospice Chaplains to practice not just good self-care but 'mindful' self-care. Our work is too demanding to do anything less. May 2016 be your best and most rewarding year in your hospice career