This Wellness Wednesday, I decided to discuss the importance of self-care.
So many of us do not practice or embrace this as part of our everyday routine. We can infuse so many other habits and rituals into our lives every day, but why is this powerful health concept missing from our lives? I have watched too many people, particularly the beautiful women in my life, underutilize this simple craft that can have such an incredible impact on their longevity and well being.
My grandmother, Madeline, is one example. Watching her lose a two year battle to liver cancer when I was nine years old, inspired me to become a physician and healer. Madeline was a dedicated and committed nurse, wife, mother, and friend, always putting the people she cared for and loved before her own needs. I often wonder if she had mastered her self-care, would her life and longevity have turned out differently?
I have fallen short myself. Self-care has certainly taken a back seat in my busy, chaotic life for as long as I can remember. And my health was certainly not a priority when I suddenly found myself in my 30s raising three kids under the age of four, running a household, building a thriving GI practice, and taking calls 24/7, among many other things. The irony was that here I told hundreds of patients each week how to take care of themselves, and I was not living by example. I was lost in the daily grind of life, stuck on a hamster wheel unable to find my way off.
Finally, one day I managed to jump off that wheel. My life’s journey took me down a new path. I found my way again- why I became a physician in the first place- to heal people. Prescribing a pill for every ill, and being reactive instead of proactive with my patients was not working. Practicing medicine this way started affecting my health, and for me to effectively care for others, I needed to heal myself along with my patients. I was committed to taking this health journey with them.
I had to learn how to infuse self-care back into my life. I had to flood my body with beautiful phytonutrients (eat the colors of the rainbow) and commit myself to whole foods, plant-based diet. I had to start exercising again. I needed to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep and manage stress better. I started to meditate, and I worked on my mindset- my beliefs and leaning into what can and will happen for me. Quickly, I noticed that by optimizing my self-care, I was not only impacting my health but the health of my children, husband, and patients. The ripple effect was quite magical. I wish my grandmother could have found her way too.
We are living through a healthcare crisis in this country- an epidemic of chronic disease within an infectious disease pandemic. Through self-care, we can enhance and maintain resiliency. This is so important now more than ever; I am dedicated to educating my patients, family, and friends about self-care to avert whatever crisis may be looming a week, year, or decade from now. I want to prevent your story from turning into my grandmother’s.
Instead of “sick” care, let’s practice“health” care. Recognizing the importance of self-care is a critical first step towards becoming the healthiest version of yourself. Partner with me in your healthcare journey, you won’t regret it!