Caring For Yourself

Caring For Yourself


By Dr. Shealynn Buck

“Take time to take care of myself – are you kidding? I’m too busy taking care of everyone else.” It’s out on the table: the response shared by most professional women regarding self-care. We dismiss the responsibility of taking care of ourselves as a luxury, a selfish pleasure and even a waste of time.

We’re driven to de-prioritize ourselves in an effort to put everyone and everything else first. Maybe it’s cultural – nice girls let others go first. Maybe it’s biological – the nurturing caregiver response inherent to females. Perhaps, it’s even moral – do unto others, as you would have them do unto you (although we often forget the “do unto you” part). Whatever the reason, as a physician, mother-of-two, licensed health coach, and former corporate executive who once teetered on the verge of burn-out, I’m convinced that our collective mindset regarding self-care is in need of a wake up call.

Self-care is key to preventing burnout and disease. It is one of the best investments we can make, not just for our own health, but for our loved ones and community. It includes taking care of your body, mind, emotions and spirit so you can effectively take care of everything and everyone else in your life. It’s the “oxygen mask on the airplane” concept: put on your mask before helping others (if not, you’ll both go down together).

Here are some tips for prioritizing self-care:

1. Make a self-care plan.
You have a maintenance plan for your car, why not one for yourself? Consider your energy stealers and signs of burnout. Write down strategies to recharge your energy, such as weekly massages, monthly facials and hot bubble baths on the weekend. Talk to your health provider about prevention check-ups and healthy lifestyle behaviors. Make a schedule, set appointments with yourself and keep them.

2. Enlist accountability partners.
Ask them to keep you in check at the first signs that you’re stretching yourself too thin. Include them in your self-care – a girlfriends’ day at the spa, a couple’s weekend retreat, and even a mammogram appointment with your closest friend.

3. Create sanctuaries.
Whether at home, work, or in your car, focus on sensory cues that calm and restore your energy. Get a massage or facial and carry the experience with you in a lotion, candle, essential oil, or calming music that brings back the memory of relaxation.

4. Take the spa approach and create “no cell zones” in your life.
Why is a spa a “no cell zone?” Because electronic devices are disruptive stressors when not put in their place. Today, we are more connected to our phones and laptops than to others. We panic if our phone battery is glowing red and scramble to find a way to recharge. What about our own batteries? Take the spa approach and put boundaries around your digital life. You’ll be surprised how much time you regain to take care of you.

5. Think European and take vacations.
Europeans are known for their “work to live” approach and regularly visit health spas and vacation destinations. Americans, in our “live to work” culture, view vacationing as a sign of weakness, which is one reason that three out of four Americans are chronically stressed. Self-care includes regular getaways to rest, rejuvenate, and keep stress in balance. “Working” vacations don’t count, so leave laptops behind.

6. Get outside and socialize.
Sunshine and loved ones are essential to self-care. Leave your desk and get at least 15 minutes of fresh air every day. Better yet, meet a friend for a walk. It’ll do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit.

Shealynn Buck, M.D. (aka Dr. Shea) is the owner and founder of Prescription to Thrive, LLC and National Medical Director for Blue MedSpa.

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