The Art of Practicing Self-Empathy and Awareness: How It Can Help Healthcare Professionals in Their Profession

In a world of challenging work and high pressure, we spend a lot of time thinking about and caring for sick people in the healthcare sector. But, how do we care for ourselves and our colleagues? Do we take time out to practice a little mindfulness or deep breathing, or do we rush to the next job? Research shows that practicing self-empathy or self-compassion helps you perform better as a professional and be a healthier, more mindful person.

Why Self-Empathy and Awareness are Important

Mindfulness-based stress reduction matters more to our mental health and well-being than you think. For example, when you work in a high pressured area and constantly have to think with little rest, these activities can lead to stress and burnout. Sadly, people who love their job find they dislike coming to work due to compassion fatigue. The situation can spiral into anxiety, burnout, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Caring for your health is vital, especially if you want to continue working in healthcare and high-powered traumatic situations. It is also as important to look out for colleagues experiencing signs of stress and support them with self-empathy methods.

How to Support Colleagues with Self-Empathy

Looking out for each other is very important in the workplace. But how do you provide empathy without intruding or being overbearing? Dr. Brené Brown has articulated the difference between sympathy, which drives disconnections, and empathy which fosters connections and is a more effective approach. She believes the art of empathy has four main aspects.

Taking perspective relates to simply finding space to listen to what is going on with a colleague. Secondly, being non-judgmental is crucial. Talking blame and trying to challenge others at this stage is inappropriate, but you will demonstrate empathetic behavior by listening and giving someone space. Recognizing emotions in others is essential and reflecting on empathizing, such as acknowledging how someone may be feeling. Finally, getting the communication to be perfect is vital. For example, aside from listening, saying you can see they are hurting or in a hard place acknowledges you listen to them. Offering the opportunity for them to talk further reinforces that message.

Embed Empathy in the Culture at Work

How empathy is recognized in healthcare settings goes beyond individuals supporting each other. Compassion, empathy, and a no-blame culture are all aspects of how organizations can shape their values and beliefs to improve how departments and teams function and promote a culture of wellness. For example, suppose empathy and compassion are embedded in the culture of a hospital or organization. In that case, it becomes part of the norm, and behaviors change to an environment that supports others, reducing stress and burnout, as articulated by the Harvard Business Review. Importantly for patients, when clinicians have compassion and empathy, the quality of care improves. So, by promoting empathy, you are creating a positive working environment, a culture of wellness, and helping with the quality of care.

Four Things You Can Do to Promote Empathy

If you are looking to embed a more empathetic approach in your department or team, you can start by taking four simple actions

Learn Basic Self-Care Techniques

Learning to channel stress and negative feelings is vital so you can help others who need support. Take time to meditate or use mindfulness techniques, so you start to think clearly and can process thoughts. Deep breathing exercises help you relax and help support others who may be distressed. Taking a break at work is essential, so you have time away from a busy department to recharge and unwind. Learn how Healing Breaths’ evidence-based SKY breathing techniques can help facilitate the release of deep stress and harmonize the body and mind.

Set Realistic Expectations

Realizing that you cannot do everything all of the time is important. Sometimes the demands are overwhelming but taking a step back and working out a priority, or simple steps help process things and enable you to work more realistically. For example, deep breathing is a good and effective technique to prioritize your work and stay focused.

Learn to Reflect

Using structured reflection on scenarios helps you process things that have happened in a focused way that promotes learning. By using supportive questioning methods, you can help yourself and your colleagues work through scenarios and become stronger in future work.

Rest and Sleep

Getting sufficient rest, relaxation and sleep are essential for good physical and mental health. Taking time out, avoiding excess hours at work, and making sure you have some downtime before bed all help relax and refresh the body. By getting a good nights’ sleep, you will help your body be less stressed and be in a position to self-care more effectively.

Working with effective self-empathy techniques and good self-care is vital in the healthcare environment. It is not just a crucial part of an individual’s working day but should also be embedded in an organization’s culture.

 An independent study conducted on the SKY program offered by Healing Breaths showed that participants who participated SKY breathing technique spent significantly more time in deeper sleep with a 218% increase in REM sleep.

Healing Breaths: Helping Healthcare Workers Strengthen Their Self-Compassion

Find out how Healing Breaths is helping healthcare workers and leaders with self-care and resilience programs that help cultivate awareness and restore sleep deprivation and mental health. Schedule a call with one of our wellness account executives or email