Kristen Haines

Occupational Therapist

UF Shands Rehab Center

14 Years

As a healthcare professional, I find joy and fulfillment in helping others to heal, watching them progress and empowering them to take hold of their independence and life once again. For a small part of their recovery journey, I get to be an encourager, a teacher, a coach, and an advocate for my patients. With this also comes the role of being a shoulder to cry on, a bearer of bad news (or new realities) and an unloading station for difficult emotions. A constant question I ask myself is “what more could I have done?” 

 

Some days, I can table that and leave it behind in the hospital at the end of my day but other days, that’s a tall order. More often, I find that the burden and weight of the people we serve each and every day seeps into our bones. It becomes a part of us and we carry that more than we realize. In the times of COVID, the strain has increased ten fold.

 

Now the ability to provide good care comes with added risks not only to my patients and myself but to my entire family. New routines are now in place involving decontamination processes, occasional quarantines and hug restrictions when mommy gets home. The simplest of decisions can set off running and evolving algorithms dancing in my mind of risk assessments, exposures, CDC updates, frequently refined protocols… These all create a palpable tension. More than I realized, this was slowly piling on me. Self care somehow takes a quick back seat for many of us and for me, getting into a consistent routine has typically been a struggle.

 

The Yoga Well Find Your Flow series was/is a perfect fit for me. I signed up for it with the intention of getting myself doing more yoga and finding more balance in my life. Anything was better than the nothing I was doing and I wanted get my body physically healthy and my head centered. By then end, I had a new found value and joy in my “mat time.” The flexibility of the format allowed me to pick and choose what, when and how I could engage. I could make it fit into my schedule and as simple or in depth as I wanted by choosing which practices or readings/videos worked best day to day.

 

The material is rich with themes of self awareness, quieting the mind, letting go/detoxing, rebuilding and digging deeper into your truest self. I love the way that they all tie together: the daily reflections, yoga practices and CBT work. Tones of one could be heard in another which made for a cohesive impression in those valuable moments of “me time.”

 

The variety of levels and types of yoga were helpful in accommodating my energy level from day to day as well. I could go for a more relaxing, rest-filled kind of session in the evening or an energizing session in the morning. It deepened my yoga practice and morphed it into something I began to look forward to and even crave. I became easier to prioritize and make time for myself in my day.

 

For me, it was 20-30 minutes in the morning before work that was best and somedays I would even do a second practice in the evening. This became a place to peel back the stress, strain, anxieties and weight of not only my current day but the weight of past experiences that have impacted me and who I am.

 

The CBT lessons alongside the 1:1 counseling was a powerful tool for deepening my appreciation and awareness of my inner-most self. There were things I was carrying I didn’t even realize and this series provided a safe space to unpack that and move through it. It helped me begin the process of peeling back the “otherness” I have put on my shoulders over the years, and begin to dig into the wholeness of who I am. 

From a young age “Love others as you love yourself” was a core belief of my upbringing. The loving others felt natural, even easy but loving myself… well, that is where the work seems to be. I think this is a common trend in the healthcare worker: hearts for service and care. But if we can first care for ourselves by filling our cup and living into the best version of ourselves, then we can better care for others.

 

YogaWell and the Find Your Flow series helped me start on a journey of self-discovery toward wholeness. My practice is something I continue to come back to and make room for in my day. I am so very grateful for this program and the ways that it has carried me to a continually unfolding, healthier version of myself.