Care for Caregivers

I remember when I first injured my back in 2005. I was a practicing chiropractor unable to practice. Ugh. I had a lot of cringe-worthy encounters with people who would chuckle and say, “Isn’t it ironic, a chiropractor with a bad back?” I would try to smile politely at their witty observation, but, truth be told, it absolutely gutted me every time.

The unfortunate truth is that health care practitioners (and students in those disciplines) are among the highest risk of occupation-related, compromised physical and mental health. So, yes, it is ironic that health professionals are often unwell themselves. It’s also problematic and an absolute shame for careers to be cut short. We need to protect these precious resources that give of themselves and work tirelessly for the benefit of others. If nothing else, this pandemic has reminded us of how important health care providers are among all disciplines. Let’s all extend them our sincere gratitude!

When I went to chiropractic college in the mid to late 1980s, “care of the caregiver” wasn’t on anyone’s radar, and we certainly didn’t discuss it. This holds true for friends of mine in other disciplines as well. Not only wasn’t it discussed, but there was a degree of shame associated with any mental or physical health ailment. “What does that say about me if I’m unwell myself?”

Fortunately, we have come a very long way in the last few decades, and these important conversations are happening.There’s also important research and reviews being conducted to explore this serious situation and develop effective strategies. I was intrigued to see this recent review in Complementary Therapies in Medicine (May 2021). They did an exhaustive search of almost 5000 records and parsed it down to 25 studies looking at the effectiveness of yoga interventions. The most frequently reported findings included reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, and musculoskeletal pain.

These results are certainly encouraging and suggest that yoga may be part of an effective strategy to address this very real concern. Studying disciplines such as yoga can be tricky as there are many variables to consider: style of yoga, duration, etc., but it’s certainly hopeful, and I’m buoyed that the health and well being of health practitioners is being taken seriously. With yoga accessible in so many formats with few obstacles for participation, I think this modality should be considered as part of a healthy lifestyle.

I was a little late in the game but so very grateful for the impact my practice has had on my life. I would encourage everyone to seek out a yoga and movement practice that resonates with you. There are a lot of different approaches to yoga, and each teacher brings their own unique personality to the practice. I can’t say this enough – it’s never too late!

There’s a perfect fit for everyone!

May your actions, thoughts and deeds uplift others.

Kind regards,