Why I’ve been so quiet of late….

I am so sorry that I have been out of contact for the last couple of months…it’s not what I planned but the first deadline in my PhD loomed and I needed to finalise my research plan and get it before the various university research committees by certain deadlines.

The perils of studying ...

The perils of studying …

Oh and I’ve also started a six month contract at a hospice where I’m counselling patients, family members and the bereaved as well as running mindfulness and self-compassion sessions for patients. So it has been a bit hectic of late.

Just in case you’re intrigued and wondering what on earth I’m spending my time doing the [sexy] title as it currently stands of my research is “Flexible self-compassion training for carers and nurses of individuals with life limiting and terminal illness”. As part of my research I will be finalising my own self-compassion programme and then running a pilot before launching a full blown study. A lot of work beckons but it’s very exciting (please don’t remind me I said this when I’m hitting a wall further down the line and am wishing I had never started…!).

Being back in a hospice reminds me how hard it is for patients, carers and nurses to take care of themselves – they are always putting others first and generally don’t believe that they too matter and need to prioritise themselves sometimes. Does this ring true for you? If so I would really appreciate you sharing your thoughts below in the Comments. Perhaps you have personal experience of this or in your own work life you see this. I would really value your thoughts on this.

Going forwards I will now be immersing myself in all things compassion based and plan to send you nuggets of information and ideas as I plough through the literature…And I will be running a self-compassion workshop in July here in Chester. Once the date and venue has been finalised I will let you know.

Good News!! DISCOUNTS – hoorah!! As you have been with me from such an early stage on this journey and as a very valued subscriber to my web site I will be offering you a discount on the cost of the workshop. Keep watching for further news.

Take care,

Kate

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4 Responses to Why I’ve been so quiet of late….

  1. Lauren diggory says:

    Having had experience of a personal caring role i.e. Looking after my elderly grandmother with dementia and friends that have had severe mental health problems I am able to compare this to my professional caring role as a mental health nurse in a high dependency unit.
    I think as a professional there is an expectation that you are able to leave work and leave work behind. From my personal experience I have found this at times difficult to do and it has resulted in me being unable to manage my own physical and mental health outside of work.
    It has taken for an almost breakdown in myself for me to realise the importance of caring for myself as without this I am unable to deliver the service that my patients need and deserve.

    I feel that having to care for unwell relatives and friends is a duty, an expectation and is completely necessary in order to fulfil the role of a friend or family member, however difficult it may be. I have experience of this on a professional level having worked with carers or families through work. The most important thing we highlight to them is that personal wellbeing is critical in order to care for others.

    I believe that this is something that needs to continue to be highlighted as it truly is such an important part of being able to care.

    • Kate says:

      Hi Lauren, Thank you so much for joining in the discussion. You make such a strong case for the need for self-care both as a professional and as an individual with loved ones to support. How sad that it takes a near break down to begin to see that self-care isn’t just a ‘nice’ thing to do but a necessity for some. And how great that you encourage other carers and family members to look after their own well-being too; I guess you speak with real conviction knowing the cost to you personally of not taking care. I wonder how self-care is taught in the nursing profession? It’s certainly something I hope to explore further when I get to meet with some nurses as part of my research. Keep on taking care of yourself x

  2. Hannah Bridge says:

    Dear Kate
    I love a stimulating debate and found I did a double-take on a statement you made. “they (Carers) are always putting others first and generally don’t believe that they too matter and need to prioritise themselves sometimes. ”

    I have to strongly disagree with this. If we keep saying these things then we reinforce the social belief that this is what carers ‘always’ do. Right now, I am caring for myself, my 16 year old daughter, my elderly father who has dementia, my mother who just had an aborted failed hip operation because her heart was too frail and she is in too much pain to live with a rubbish hip joint, and my son who as you know is recovering from his own long term health problems. My husband is on my team, and my 18 year old daughter is officially out of my range of responsibility as of last February but as you know we still care very much as parents. I cannot agree that ‘generally we are putting others first’. This is an archaic social myth that we must dispel and those teaching compassion like yourself must lead the way in new language and show that it is possible, that generally we can care for ourselves, prioritise ourselves. Moreover, some of us are caring for ourselves and prioritising ourselves. There are role models out there; my yoga teacher is one. Finally, as I am sure you state over and over again, those who do not prioritise themselves make poor carers, are potentially co-dependent, and definitely heading for an empty energy battery that could let their loved ones down. So, please join me in changing our belief system and our language!

    Hope you value the debate Kate. all love, Hannah

    • Kate says:

      Hi Hannah, I really get your passion here. I think you make a valuable point about my use of language and I can see that it may be more accurate to say that often carers put others first. I’m not sure though that I understand what you term an ‘archaic social belief’ when there is considerable evidence that carers for various reasons find it difficult to take care of themselves and research indicates that up to 40% of carers experience psychological distress or depression and have increased physical health problems (1, 2). The reality is that many people do find it difficult to be kind to themselves and do struggle to put themselves first and this is particularly so when others that they care for are in need. I believe you and your yoga teacher are in the minority in managing to prioritise your own needs and I think it’s fantastic that you are able to do so in the face of your own challenging circumstances. Of course I want to support and help others to practice self-compassion and self-kindness and develop a compassionate approach to themselves and to others and to challenge the social expectation that we should always put others first. I’m just not convinced that using language that ignores the reality of how carers frequently are unable to offer themselves self-compassion, burn out and get emotionally, spiritually and physically depleted helps achieve this.
      Thank you for engaging with this so important subject matter! Kate x

      1. Pinquart, M., & Sörensen, S. (2003). Differences between caregivers and noncaregivers in psychological health and physical health: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 18(2), 250-267
      2. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, & Royal College of General Practitioners. Supporting Carers: An action guide for general practitioners and their teams (Second ed., pp. 1-36).

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