Amanda Davis, PT, DPT, PRPC can be found online at https://www.makeandmanifest.com/. She has generously shared her recent blog with The Pelvic Rehab Report. "Got 30 Minutes? 4 Underestimated Daily Practices to Make Your Lunch Break More Life-Giving" can be found in its original post on her website here: http://www.makeandmanifest.com/blog-lunchbreak/.
Hey there, I'm Amanda. Pelvic rehab therapist, endo warrior, girl mama (despite that whole endo thing), and creator of this space where I'm sharing the story of practicing what I preach and the wins and losses I gather along the way. I love early morning espresso, podcast binging, yoga pants, and scrolling Pinterest for my next obsession (heyyyy fellow libras!). My mission is to help women see the difference between "common" and "normal" and to take their physical, mental, and emotional health beyond the "that's just the way it is" mentality.
Hats off to my fellow 9-5ers who head home after a long day to jump right into their 5-9. If you’re like me, that second “career” includes (but definitely is not limited to) caregiver, dog walker, master gardener, professional organizer, chef, and housekeeper to name a few. Add in friendships that need energy, relationships that need time, those hobbies you swore you’d keep alive, and self-care you promised yourself you’d do…aaaaand the whole multi-passionate, multi-talented, multi-hyphenate thing can get overwhelming quick.
After a glorious five-month maternity leave, I’ve officially been a working mom for a year. I love my job and I love my girl, and while trying to fit both in a 24 day is challenging and exhausting, it’s what’s right for me in the season I’m in. Plus there’s something about pursuing my calling outside of the home and knowing Sloan’s watching me do it.
We’ve all chased that ultimate goal of a *perfect* balance and ~seamless~ blend between work and home, but in full disclosure, I’ve gotta tell ya— it’s hard for me to do. I’ve found myself coming home drained, dying for a break, wishing I could just lock myself in a quiet room, and feeling guilty for all of the above. Being with my daughter is the best part of my day, but I’m often just too depleted to enjoy it.
Maybe you can relate? Maybe you’re also trying to work to live but find those words flipping themselves around more than you care to admit.
I recently took an online course called Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist, Part 1 (part 2 is on June 12). As a PT I’m required to take continuing education to keep my skillset relevant and knowledge fresh, but the pending burnout I shared with you above led me to [this] course instead. To put it simply, it was [insert explosion sound here] mind-blowing; and call me dramatic, but I consider my practice, my patients, and myself as a person and professional forever changed because of it.
While I could write at least ten posts on all the things I learned in this class, the concept that’s been most life-altering for me was how I spend my lunchtime. Yep!…just a few tweaks to those 30 minutes mid-day and not only are my afternoons more pleasant and productive, but I’m going home refreshed, renewed, and ready to spend my time and energy on alllllllllll the other people and things that mean the most to me.
What you’ll find next is how I structure my lunchtime for life-giving success— a strategy that serves me most. We all have different work environments, different physical and mental needs, and different priorities. As long as your cup feels full(er) at the end of your break, I can confirm you’re doin’ it right.
SHUT YOUR DOOR
I fully realize that not everyone has an office door they can shut during lunchtime, but as long as you can get somewhere semi-quiet and remotely alone, that should do the trick (heck…I’ve been known to go out to my car in a pinch). Creating a calm and centered environment has proven paramount to taking a true “break” from the day and will make all of my recommendations to follow that much more enjoyable.
If you’re worried about appearing “selfish” or “standoffish”…I was too. But after a week’s worth of lunches behind a closed door, I realize the positives of this practice far outweigh the negatives I was creating in my head. I’m still a team player. My coworkers still know where I am if they need me. But I’m a better colleague the other eight hours of the day when I take these 30 minutes to myself, and to my knowledge, there have been no complaints so far.
STOP TO EAT
To my fellow multi-tasking queens— if you only read one part of this post, let [this] be it as I believe this one change has made the biggest difference.
I used to spend my lunch catching up on paperwork, tending to emails, paying bills, online shopping, and then resort to scrolling social media if all of that was done. But I was eating during all of it and realized that not only was it taking me twice as long to complete tasks, but I wasn’t tasting, appreciating, or ultimately enjoying my food, all huge components of appetite, digestion, and ultimately nutrition and health.
My lunches aren’t anything fancy; in fact, 99% of the time they’re leftovers from earlier in the week (helloooooooo my trusty 3-day-old grilled chicken). But stopping to eat with intention and nothing other than a little music or podcast playing in the background has surprisingly, but positively, affected how much I consume, how my gut feels afterward, and the amount of energy I have for the rest of the day.
PS- What you eat can make a huge impact here too. I aim for whole, quality foods full of healthy fats and filling proteins to set me up for success. I’m someone who can eat the same thing again and again, so you’ll typically find my lunchbox full of that good ol’ grilled chicken, boiled eggs, fruit, cheese, and rice noodles if I’m feelin’ feisty.
On top of that podcast I have playing while I eat, I’ve started spending ten to fifteen minutes learning during lunch. I literally set a timer, pull out a book, and read about something that fuels my brain.
In order to make these minutes a 10/10, here’s a few tips to uplevel the experience:
When I became a mom I went from devouring a few books a month to being able to count my yearly reads on one hand. Reading on my lunch break has made me excited to learn again and reminded me of who I am outside of motherhood too (in turn making me a better mama). Even if reading isn’t your “thing”, at least give this one a try. Bonus if you utilize your local library because their books just smell better and we’re going for indulgent here…remember?
Eat…ten minutes. Learn…ten minutes. If you’re like me and have ten more minutes to spare, then I encourage you to move your body with that time. While the options are endless, I try to avoid sweating too much in the middle of the work day, so walking, stretching, and even deep breathing exercises are more my speed. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have the shoes, yoga mat, or whatever it is you need ready to go.
Not only does research show that movement improves your mood and elevates your energy, but there are also the physical benefits (duh!) and mental resilience that comes with knowing you’re taking care of yourself when you could be doing something else. Once fearful of wasting precious energy, I now consider my mid-day movement the boost I need to ensure I’m ready to go when I get home because let me tell ya…one year olds don’t quit.
One look at my Pinterest boards and you’ll see I’m a girl who has a lot she wants to accomplish (I see you dream house, list of must-reads, vacation itineraries, and yummy recipes just dyyyyyying to be made). But with a 24-hour day divided in thirds between work, sleep, and “other”, I have to use my time wisely to see success in a life where I’m more often than not choosing the option of (D) ALL OF THE ABOVE.
I don’t mean to be dramatic, but hacking my 30-minute lunch has ~literally~ changed my life and I’m a better physical therapist, caregiver, dog walker, master gardener, professional organizer, chef, and housekeeper (to name a few) because of it. There’s a saying that if you can’t go big, go home, but this is an instance where you can’t underestimate the power of a few minutes spent intentionally where it counts.
I’d love to hear in the comments what you do for work, if these strategies work for you, and ways you’ve made them your own. And don’t hesitate to share this one with a coworker who could use these strategies too! Nothing makes me happier than picturing us all spending half an hour in that 11-2 time frame-filling our cups for full-day success. I have a feeling you’ll be surprised at the impact this can have, and I can’t wait to watch you grow one lunchtime at a time.
This course focuses on personal and professional growth for the participant, with a deeper dive into meditation and self-care practices. Yoga is introduced as a means of mindful movement and energy balance. Participants will learn to identify unhealthy relational patterns in patients and others, and skills on how to use language and boundaries to create shifts that keep the clinician grounded and prevent excessive energic and emotional disruptions. There is a lecture on using essential oils for self-care and possibly patient care. Learning new strategies to preserve energy, wellness, and passion while practicing appropriate self-care and boundaries will lead to helpful relationships with complex patients. This course also includes a discussion of energetic relationships with others as well as the concept of a "Higher Power". The discussion will also include refining life purpose, mission, and joy potential, unique to the individual participant. The goal is that the participating clinician will walk away from this experience equipped with strategies to address both oneself and one's patients with a mind, body, and spirit approach.
This week Jennafer Vande Vegte and Nari Clemons sat down to share their course Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation with us to give a peek into the why, what, and how of it all.
What are boundaries? Boundaries are when we need to set a limit. It’s that capacity to say here’s where I need to draw the line so that I stay grounded and centered and feel good about myself. Self-care is what we do to replenish those energy reserves every day. To replenish our joy. To replenish our sense of awe and gratitude. Then meditation is a beautiful way to rewire the brain. To get to the reasons and roots of why we are getting depleted, we need to have a high level of honesty and introspection.
This is a course that gives you that permission and a lot of tangible tools. Nari shares that students have told her that "all of the other courses give us manual skills, but this course changed my life." Jen adds to this, "BUT you got to put in the work. This course is science and research-based and used in a way to transform lives." Part one is a deep dive into the science of the brain. Pain, trauma, PTSD and how that changes the brain, and how that has changed the brains of patients and of us. Meditation practices are explained from a scientific perspective about how they can come in and rewire the nervous system and help your patterns.
Part two is about a month later and gets a little bit softer. In this portion, Nari and Jenn focus on relationships, not just with our patients but with ourselves and the people that we love in our lives. How to construct healthy relationships and build that patient shared responsibility model in our practices. They also dive into the visualization of what we want in our practices and lives, self-care, and meditation. The course comes to a close with case studies and an action plan to bring what you’ve learned into the clinic. They’ve also established an online network where you can sign up for continued community. We’re all going through this journey together.
Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation Part 1 is scheduled for April 24th.
Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation Part 2 is scheduled for June 12th.
Part 1: Burnout
Let’s get real for a minute.
You are a highly educated professional. If you are reading this blog, I can assume you are invested in your career and your continued education. You are probably pretty skillful, and you help a lot of people.
How are you doing once you leave work?
Does your life outside of work give you joy and fulfillment?
Or do you leave your work setting completely drained, snippy with your loved ones, and too tired to care for yourself?
You have at least one advanced degree, probably some certifications, but did anyone ever teach you how to get your paperwork done on time?
Or how to leave work at work and not have your patients popping into your head day and night?
What about energy conservation? In fact, we may have been taught to give our ALL to work, to our patients, to strive for productivity and accomplishment. But where does that leave us?
Part 2: Mindset
Taking continuing education classes was my pathway to becoming a better physical therapist.
But I had to go to therapy to learn how to survive as a physical therapist.
There were struggles.
Paperwork. I could NEVER finish in a timely way.
Timeliness. I was OFTEN running behind for patients.
Discharge. I had some patients for YEARS because I did not know how to discharge them even though they weren’t getting better. They depended on me, and I also depended on them.
Boundaries. I had none.
And here’s something that surprised me.
I had to change the way I THOUGHT before I could change my BEHAVIOURS.
I had to change my mindset.
I used to show up at work with the idea of Helping People. I felt responsible for their outcomes. If they weren’t doing well, I assumed I was missing something.
The shift looked like this:
I can show up at work to coach people who are responsible for their own outcomes. If they aren’t doing well, we can have honest communication about next steps (medical or otherwise), discharge, or resistance.
My patients are not my family, they are not my friends. I show up as a coach who is very interested in understanding their story and helping them reach their goals through a shared responsibility model of care.
My free time is sacred. I need to protect it for my mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. Because I am a priority, I will use 5 minutes of each treatment session to complete the patient’s treatment by doing paperwork.
Now, therapy is INVALUABLE. Don’t get me wrong, but paperwork, timeliness, discharge, and healthy boundaries are things MANY of us struggle with. So Nari Clemons and I designed a Continuing Education COURSE. We believe that therapists deserve to learn skills to preserve our wellbeing and strengthen our resilience against burnout.
Especially since the pandemic, more and more health care workers are reporting very high levels of burnout. Nari Clemons and I went through a period of burnout earlier in our careers. The tools and techniques we learned to heal ourselves and develop new patterns of delivering care are powerful. We know you might also be struggling and we want to help. So we developed a course to equip you. We would love to learn with you at Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation. A two-part, online journey toward experiencing a practice you enjoy and a life you love.
Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation is a two-part series intended to be completed in order. Participants should register for Part 1 and Part 2 at the same time, or complete Part 1 and wait to complete Part 2 at a later date. This course was developed by Nari Clemons, PT, PRPC, and Jennafer Vande Vegte, PT, PRPC and was "born out of our own personal and professional struggles and our journey to having a life and a practice that we love and can sustain." The intention of this class is deep, personal, and professional transformation through evidence-based information and practices. Both Part One and Part Two have a significant amount of pre-work to digest and practice before meeting via Zoom. Nari shares that "This sets the stage for you to find your path to experiencing more joy, energy, and balance."
In Part One, participants begin their process of study, meditation, and self-reflection in the weeks prior to the start of the class. Pre-work includes focusing on the neuroscience of pain, trauma, PTSD, and meditation. Participants will learn about the powerful influence both negative and positive experiences have on our nervous system’s structure and function. Personal meditation practice and instruction will create changes in the participant's own nervous system. Participants will also learn how to prescribe meditation for various patient personalities and needs, as well as analyze yourself through inventories on coping, self-care, empathy, burnout, values as well as track how you spend your time. Commitment to pre-work will facilitate rich discussion as we put what you have learned into practice around building a shared responsibility model of patient care, language to support difficult patients, and both visualizing and planning steps to create new, healthier patterns in your life and in your practice.
Part Two continues the focus on personal and professional growth for the participant, with a deeper dive into meditation and self-care practices. Yoga is introduced as a means of mindful movement and energy balance. Participants will learn to identify unhealthy relational patterns in patients and others, and skills on how to use language and boundaries to create shifts that keep the clinician grounded and prevent excessive energic and emotional disruptions. There is a lecture on using essential oils for self-care and possibly patient care. Learning new strategies to preserve energy, wellness, and passion while practicing appropriate self-care and boundaries will lead to helpful relationships with complex patients. This course also includes a discussion of energetic relationships with others as well as the concept of a "Higher Power". Course discussion will also include refining life purpose, mission, and joy potential, unique to the individual participant. The goal is that the participating clinician will walk away from this experience equipped with strategies to address both oneself and one's patients with a mind, body, and spirit approach.