In school, we learn how important it is to be a self-reflective physiotherapist. But, as much as this concept was drilled into us, many of us have forgotten about it. Not because we don’t believe in its importance, but because it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business of treating patients and running a practice.
With today’s high demand for healthcare and not enough staff to provide it, working as a physiotherapist can lead to long hours, busy schedules, and little time for yourself. Add to that personal commitments like caring for family, and it’s no wonder so many health care professionals feel burned out!
Taking time for self-care and self-reflection not only plays a huge role in your overall well-being, it’s also extremely beneficial for your patients. Failure to take care of you can lead to mental and physical burnout, the inability to make sound judgments, and hinder you from delivering the level of care you’d otherwise be able to.
Why is Self-Reflection so Important?
Most physiotherapists have very busy schedules, constantly going from one appointment to the next, and that doesn’t leave a lot of time to check in on career or personal goals.
But, the good news is that self-reflection can be done in as little as 10 to 20 minutes! Setting aside this time to look inwards and think about your challenges and successes can give you the clarity you need to really hear your patients and identify their needs more easily.
Self-reflection will not only improve your career as a physiotherapist, it can positively influence your personal relationships as well. It can help you to better comprehend your emotions, acknowledge your strengths, and to identify your areas of weakness.
By taking the time to reflect on career setbacks or mistakes you’ve made, you’ll be more likely to learn from them and find ways to improve in your practice. It can help you to better understand any specific challenges you’re facing and give you the space to acknowledge your strengths. We often get caught up in focusing on the patients that don’t seem to be progressing, but it’s just as important to acknowledge the successes we have as physiotherapists.
The Benefits of Self-Reflection as a Clinician
Increased Mental Clarity
Self-reflection helps you clear out the clutter and hone in on what’s really important. It helps further develop your thought processing skills and strengthens your ability to make successful clinical decisions. It also helps in developing a more creative approach to problem-solving.
Practicing self-reflection builds awareness and confidence in your abilities, helping reduce unwanted stress and fears associated with work. Taking the time to calm your mind through reflection helps you recognize and deal with your stressors. It helps you temporarily escape from the daily responsibilities that occupy your mind, giving you a chance to recharge.
Developing A Self-Reflection Plan
Similar to making physical exercise a part of your daily routine, it’s very important to practice self-reflection regularly to improve your mental and emotional health.
Having a self-reflection plan takes time to develop and can seem overwhelming, even selfish, but once you have formed the habit of self-reflection, you will see positive results in your life and general well-being.
Meditating on questions and solutions to better improve your capabilities, confidence, and performance has the added benefit of improving memory function and mental organization.
Choosing the type of reflection that works best for you is key. We recommend journaling, but you should do whatever feels best - whether you incorporate reflecting with your daily exercise, doing household chores, going for a walk, blogging, or even taking a mindfulness practice approach. As long as you can commit to it regularly, you will always see positive results.
Tips to Help With Self-Reflection
Use Positive Affirmations
Negative self-reflection causes stress, discouragement and feelings of inadequacy. Using positive affirmations can help you celebrate your strengths and achievements, giving you the encouragement you need to improve yourself. Using positive affirmations with self-reflection helps you to harness positive thinking not just during moments of reflection, but in your daily life as well.
It will help improve your confidence, mood, and outlook. Using positive affirmations will help overcome feelings of defeat and give you insight on how best to improve in your physiotherapy career.
Some great questions to meditate on are:
What makes me a good physiotherapist?
What do I struggle with in my career? How can I improve in these areas?
Do I need to gain any new skills in order to advance my career as a physiotherapist?
What patients have I helped the most? How did I achieve those results?
Does my approach with clients or patients get positive or negative results?
Positive self-reflection helps prevent our critical minds from being too judgmental and simply focusing on what’s wrong. By taking the time to notice the good, you’ll be able to better manage the challenges facing you in your career as a physiotherapist. Self-reflection is the key to changing your perspective. And, remember, when you take better care of yourself, you are better capable of taking care of others.