Kim Von Ahsen, MHA, MLS(ASCP)CMSLSCM, ASCLS Region VI Director

Doing little acts of kindness are another form of self-care, which is essential to your overall health.

I love the ritual of having a cup of coffee in the morning. Like, I really, REALLY love starting my day with coffee. Often, I’ll make a cup at home or take a quick morning drive to a local coffee shop on the weekend, which is what I did on our first beautiful spring morning after a long Iowa winter.

That morning my coffee cup was asking me, “How will you be amazing today?” It a took a moment to read all the ideas listed. I’ll be honest, my first reaction was, “Ugh. Who has time to be amazing? Some days I struggle just to take care of myself.” This is when I had one of those ah-ha moments—doing little acts of kindness are just another form of self-care, and that kindness and care for myself is needed.

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, not what’s left of you.” – Katie Reed

Self-care is any activity that takes care of one’s mental, emotional, or physical health. As professionals in healthcare, we are exceptional (and I mean exceptional) at taking care of patients. We stay late, take on another project or shift, and go out of our way to provide safe and quality laboratory services. However, we tend to lack attention to ourselves—especially that ever-important care that is directed to our self through deliberate activities that reset us mentally/emotionally/physically or through acts of kindness that brighten our soul.

Practicing self-care is essential to improving your mood, relieving stress, and strengthening personal and professional relationships. Make a commitment to your well-being today, and if you need some ideas of how to incorporate activities of self-care, here’s some ways to start.

  1. Create dedicated self-care time. This can be as easy as listening to your favorite album or podcast on the way to work, or a more structured scheduled activity such as attending a yoga class once a week.
  2. Keep it simple. Don’t plan on highly complicated activities that you won’t be able to accomplish. Self-care is not about completing a bucket list.
  3. Do what you love. Self-care is also about joy, which means you should love doing the activity you choose. It’s probably not a great idea to take up camping in a tent if you are more of a luxury cabin type.
  4. Find self-care balance. Make sure to select activities that balance your mental, emotional, and physical health. Look to activities that bring peace to your mind, engage your heart, and move your body.

Most importantly, remember that self-care is a vital tool that can assist you in maintaining a life-work balance in a profession that has the highest demands.

Kim Von Ahsen is manager of client services for UnityPoint Health-Des Moines Clinical Laboratories in Des Moines, Iowa.