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First Heal Thyself

 

 

The mouths of babes, specifically one of my then-five-year old twins, shocked me into grasping the critical importance of self-care. Profoundly stressed at that time, running a struggling business and caring for three young daughters without my husband who was off supporting a critically ill parent, self-care felt illusory.  

On the verge of a frazzled breakdown, I ranted to the kids, “Mommy needs a timeout. I’m feeling a bit irritable.” My precious little girl looked patiently at me with her sad, blue eyes and softly responded, “It’s OK, Mommy, we’re used to it.”  

No words could have packed a more stunning blow. Until then, self-absorbed in perpetual busyness, I ignored the impact of my priorities on the people I treasure most. Fortunately, my daughter woke me to the realization that there are no rewards for martyrdom and failing to care for oneself is ultimately profoundly selfish. 

Here are some critical steps to self-care: 

  • Reevaluate your “musts” and clarify your top priorities. 
  • Just say no to commitments that fail to support your most critical priorities. 
  • Practice daily stress-management strategies like meditation/mindfulness 
  • Schedule first things first: family time, exercise, healthcare, then everything else. 
  • Delegate. Use shortcuts for healthy meal prep and delegate errands or busywork when possible. 
  • Unplug at meals and family time, and eliminate electronics from bedrooms at night. 
  • Filter your inputs. Read, listen to, engage in that which uplifts; tune out all else. 
  • Prioritize sleep. Minimize everything disruptive (alcohol, caffeine, lights, electronics). 
  • Indulge in nature—even watching images of nature can be restorative. 
  • Honor your loved ones by treasuring your health, one day at a time. 

 

Susan S. Wilder, M.D. 

CEO & Founder of LifeScape Medical Associates & LifeScape Premier 

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