Learning to Take Care

October 4, 2017 | News

My name is Brooke. I’m a Licensed Practical Nurse and I work in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It is one of the most beautiful and authentic places I have ever worked, but it has many challenges.

One of those challenges is that there are no cut and dry answers for things. I work with a population living with long-term difficulties with their mental health and addictions. It can be difficult to adjust my expectations and still feel like I am making a positive impact. Lately, with the opioid crisis, there have been so many losses in the community, which has left a trail of grief and sorrow that is hard to contend with.

The environment itself can be chaotic and unpredictable at times, and I can roll with the punches for a long time before realizing I have unmet needs.

The term “self care” used to make me want to run for the hills. It seemed so selfish to be wasting time worrying about myself, when daily I work with people who are struggling to have some of their very basic needs met.

Thankfully, I have a very wise counselor who has been telling me for years how and why I need to be focusing on self-care.

My husband and my counselor were both very quick to point out the way I was starting to change in this job. I found myself not eating properly, and not sleeping well at times. I often felt like I had no energy left over at the end of a day.

One of the practical things I have added to my daily routine is that I now ride my bicycle to work. It helps me to expel any anxiety on my way in, and allows me to decompress on my way home. I try to pack a nice little lunch, and take time on my breaks to sit, breathe, and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the seawall. I also plan a lot of awesome adventures on my weekends so I have something to look forward to during the week.

Another helpful thing I added to my day is stopping on my way home from work to sit and reflect for a while. I do an inventory of how my day went, what I did well, and what I could do better tomorrow. I try to leave all that stuff there, and ride home without it.

Implementing a few of these tools each day has made an incredible difference in my mental health, how well I am able to cope with difficulties at work, and how much physical energy I have left at the end of a day.

Brooke Peppler works for Community Apothecary and the Portland Hotel Society.

Do you have a story you want to share? How are you taking care of yourself? We want to hear from you. Tell us at info@safecarebc.ca