Mental Health in Osteopathy Throughout Christmas and New Year

Let's talk about mental health in osteopathy throughout Christmas and New Year. Christmas and New Year bring osteopaths two specific mental health challenges.

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About Alan Zaia M.Ost

Ethical osteopathy business and marketing advice delivered in a British accent. You’ll find me running, at the beach or inside our courses helping osteopaths create their perfect work-life balance.

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Let's discuss mental health in osteopathy throughout Christmas & New Year

The pressure of being a leader and perfectionism

All osteopaths experience ups and downs in their mental and physical health throughout their careers. However, Christmas and New Year bring osteopaths two specific mental health challenges. Firstly, there can be pressure to be all things to all people in the lead up to Christmas, while New Year calls on a social change, a pressure to achieve new heights come the first of January.

Being more conscious of our mental health during December and January is important for osteopaths because we can only offer the best care to our patients if we are healthy and ready to work. This is especially true since we give so much energy to our patients. Furthermore, an osteopath who is feeling emotionally, mentally and physically well is naturally going to be better equipped to manage stressful situations and overcome challenges as they arise.

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Christmas and New Year is a chance for osteopaths to redirect where they want the next year to go.

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Feeling the pressure to be all things to all people over Christmas

As we begin to wind down and shut up shop ready for the Christmas break, we often get a wave of patients desperately trying to book in before our doors close. In addition, social events, Christmas shopping, family obligations and get-togethers pepper our calendar and add to our already overflowing to-do list. Ironically, we feel an immense amount of pressure to spin all these plates and relax while we’re doing it. 

Here are three simple questions to ask yourself when you feel overwhelmed or a sudden wave of pressure.

  1. What am I afraid of?
  2. What is working about this situation?
  3. What’s the ideal outcome?
What am I afraid of?

Feeling overwhelmed, time-poor, and flustered often come from deep-seated fear (fear of failure, social embarrassment or the outside perception of not having our life together). By going directly to the source and addressing the root of our fear, we may be able to let go of our fear and therefore remain calmer and stay in control.

What's working about this situation?

Overwhelm is usually paired with feeling out of control. We believe we’ve lost the ability to organise our time or accept where we are instead of always thinking of what else we ‘should’ be doing. By asking ourselves what’s working, we focus on the positive aspects of the situation instead of having tunnel vision on the negative elements.

What's the ideal outcome?

This question places us back in the driver’s seat. If you don’t have a goal and feel overwhelmed, people usually will either put out spot fires or juggle lots of things just to feel as if they’re moving forward. But if you have a clear goal, you can either leave everything else that doesn’t matter and go for that goal or if you can’t get the ideal outcome, at least you know what you’re aiming for. You can then shift and make intelligent compromises that still have meaning behind them rather than just juggling lots of useless tasks. 

The pressure to achieve perfectionism during the New Year hype

In the lead up to January, there can be substantial external pressure to adopt a “new year, new me” attitude, and turn your life around 180 degrees. Letting go of this pressure may come from letting go of the idea that we need to be ‘perfect’ osteopaths and people at all times.

Perfectionism is often associated with hard work and dedication, but being perfect is near impossible to obtain, and nor should you strive for it. Dr Liza M. Wäcker argues for healthy striving over perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the avoidance of mistakes. You do things like seeking reassurance, reviewing and gathering lots of information more than needed before making a decision, giving up too soon, procrastinating or avoiding tasks. “Lots of osteopaths told me to try this marketing method, so I put $200 into it, but it didn’t work, so I won’t bother doing it again”.

Healthy striving is learning what you need to from experience and bouncing back. It’s having a growth mindset when mistakes are made – “I did it to the best of my ability.” It is valuing progress and enjoying the process. It is making mistakes, learning from them and moving on. “I earned ten patients from this marketing method in March. How can I improve it for April?”

Going back to our three questions from before can reduce perfectionism. 

  1. What am I afraid of?
  2. What is working about this situation?
  3. What’s the ideal outcome?

Asking yourself these questions highlights that being an osteopath isn’t about being perfect. It’s first and foremost about looking after yourself to then looking after your patients. These questions realign our thinking to enjoy the process of making mistakes and learning from each experience.

Summary

Your dream career is obtainable, but it takes dedication and stamina, especially throughout the holiday season. Taking care of yourself and your mental health is the first step to fuelling your long journey to reach your career goals. These questions can help you pause and gather your thoughts before you take action at any time of year.

So, as we head to the finish line of another year, osteopaths must pause, think, reflect and action healthy moves. We understand that everyone is different but urge you to trust yourself and know that you can do anything you set out to do, including doing nothing.

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