I think therefore I am? – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a holistic self-care practice

I virtually attended a self-care workshop in Canberra today. I prioritise and practise self-care daily as outlined here. I still found it good to have a refresher on the importance of self-care for homo sapiens in general, but especially so for us palliative care practitioners.

The presenters pointed out the great resources available from Palliative Care Australia which have been produced by Palliverse’s own Dr Jason Mills. The downloadable PDF can help you design your self-care plan. I think all palliative care practitioners could have this as part of their personal development plans. The work we do is different, we come face to face with other people’s death and dying several times a day in clinical practice.

The session on self-compassion was another useful reminder to me, as I had completed a six-day self-compassion-focused wellness retreat three years ago. During this, I learnt to speak to myself as if I was speaking to a good friend who needed my considerate help. Our inner self-talk can be too harsh and over-critical. We are often too hard on ourselves and this can be self-destructive.

An Aotearoa/New Zealand approach to self-care would need to cover domains of the NZ Maori Health Model – Te Whare Tapa Wha. Wairua – Spiritual, Tinana – Physical, Hinengaro – Emotional, Whanau – Familial/Social. Training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) has been an addition (some would say addiction) to my self-care practices and it helps me to cover all four health walls. Physical exertion has led to muscle gain and weight loss. BJJ has taught me to be more emotionally resilient and I feel I can handle more of everything. Regular exposure to the painful stimulus of joint locks and choke attempts has provided small doses of suffering. I can control myself in uncomfortable positions and it has helped with ego control. It is okay to tap out when you are beaten. I feel I have joined a family or community of practice and have befriended a culturally and age diverse bunch of people. In terms of spirituality, I feel more connected to my body as during BJJ training you have to be totally present in your body and attuned to what your opponent is doing. It can be a real escape from the daily grind of the rest of your life. If your mind wanders during a rolling session before you know it your joints might be in painful positions or your neck is being choked.

Yes, last week I did break my finger tip extensor tendon and have to wear a finger splint for 12 weeks. I returned to training this week and have been modifying my approach to protect the healing fingertip.

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