Self-care is not selfish
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
As we get ready to wind up summer and send our kids back to school, I am here to remind you to take care of yourself as well.
Maybe when I say that, you say to yourself, “Yes, I know, I will take care of myself.”
However, what I observe all too often is that people (women, in particular) are self-conscious or even self-critical about taking time for themselves. Many of us have a little voice (mine seems to be in my ear – maybe yours sits on your shoulder) that expresses disapproval if I say “no” to an invitation, or if I leave work on time to get to an aerobics class at the gym.
Here is a simple little formula to help you get that voice to shut up (or at least quiet down) before you get exhausted caring for kids, aging parents, and others in your life.
This formula is as simple as “A-B-C”.
A is for “ADVOCATE”
What I mean by this is, advocate for yourself.
Most of the patients I take care of have been told at one point or another by a friend, loved one, or even a doctor, that they “just” have to accept feeling more tired as they get older.
Not true! There is so much more knowledge out there than what traditional medical care tells you to help you feel great as you get older.
In particular, if your doctor will do some testing for you (i.e. go beyond telling you, you’re just getting older and you just have to accept it), remember to go for better than being barely inside the “normal range”.
Another area in which to advocate for yourself is in the area of natural vitamin supplements. There is abundant scientific data supporting the use of these supplements. The problem, at least in the U.S., is that doctors are generally not taught this information.
When my parents were in medical school in Argentina in the early 1960’s, they received extended education in nutrition (several months). In the American medical school I attended, I had a nutrition class for the grand total of ONE WEEK. During this week we focused on details such as the illnesses that occur in the total absence of one vitamin (such as scurvy without vitamin C or beri-beri without vitamin B1); nothing mentioned of vitamins to support optimal health.
B is for “BOUNDARIES”
After you advocate for yourself, you need to set boundaries around yourself and your priorities.
If you don’t attend to a problem or an issue, life will whisper to you about it. If you don’t listen to the whispers, then life will send you messages. If you ignore the messages, they will get louder. Keep ignoring those louder messages and a crisis will develop!
Time is a resource that every person on earth has in the exact same quantity. YOU get to choose how and with whom you spend your time.
With Fall approaching, kids going back to school, traffic seeming to pick up, and life getting back to busier pace, I want you to remember this:
This is a complete sentence!
Freely use this complete sentence to set boundaries in time for yourself and your priorities.
Not only is it not selfish to set boundaries, it sets a great example for your kids. (It can also set a great example for your parents, but this might be another story.) It will be even more critical for you to follow this simple step as the holidays get closer.
C is for “CALENDAR”
After you have advocated for yourself and set boundaries in time, the last step in the formula is to put items on your calendar to ensure they will happen.
Even though I (almost) always go to an aerobics class at my gym on Tuesdays at 5:30 pm, it was recently suggested to me to put it on my calendar as the recurring commitment that it is.
When my kids were small, we lived in Manhattan Beach, California. My neighbor Jackie, mom of three little kids, asked for a great Mother’s Day present: to go to bed at 6:30 pm with no further kid obligations that day!
But why should Mother’s Day or Father’s Day be only once a year?!? Just because society leans on us to care for everyone else the other 364 days per year, we can go against this trend and get the quality time, pampering or alone time we need in our lives, in all seasons of the year.
If you can’t get out of your house for some reasons, then just have a cup of coffee sitting at the backyard enjoying the greenery. You will like reading these amazing health benefits of drinking coffee.
A = Advocate
B = Boundaries
C = Calendar
Caring for yourself is not selfish.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
It’s as simple as “A-B-C”.
Please note: The material in these articles, provided by Dr. Liz Lyster, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the posts. The articles should not be considered, nor are they intended to constitute medical advice. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact us.