Living in an apartment several years ago with my family, my brother Andy and I decided to explore the complex one afternoon. Strolling along various sidewalks, we came across a group of pre-teen girls who had already proven to be very unfriendly during our few weeks of residing there. I attempted to escape their bullying behavior but, soon thereafter, found myself lying on the sidewalk after one of them shoved me. Andy then dashed back to our apartment for our mother’s assistance with the situation, especially in helping me up off the ground.
Have you ever felt like this here at work—pushed to the ground so much that you could not stand on your own? It may have been from the heavy demands in patient/family care that day. It may have resulted from the lack of cohesiveness in the various disciplines. It may even have occurred, during one of those days, when you dragged heavy emotional burdens from your personal life into the hospital.
As your chaplain in the Medical ICU, I have learned that it is not the physical task that is overwhelming but the number of tasks that require accomplishing simultaneously and even the emotions tied to them. This is what causes the emotional stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue. When the demands of meeting others’ needs becomes so great that we can no longer care for our own needs, this is when we lose focus and stability because, without any self-care, you will eventually lose the ability to provide care, period.
An anonymous author once wrote, “Setting healthy boundaries means sometimes saying ‘No.’” The word “no” is not bad in itself; it just establishes the “fence” for maintaining the space we need to maintain our physical and emotional health. So, what boundaries do you need to set in your professional and personal lives? What do you need to do to establish them? As one who struggles in setting boundaries, I know this is not an easy concept to live out, but I will take this journey with you in enhancing our physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual well-beings by firmly grounding one post of the “fence” at a time!