Do you have a Self-Care EMERGENCY?

How many times in life have you asked yourself “How am I going to get through this day/this week/this month/ (enter situation here)?”

Maybe you’re tired, overworked or under pressure.

When you face this question, the hole is deep, big enough you aren’t getting out without effort. Right?

Although you are blessed to love what you do for a living, you also need a break- time to relax, rest, recharge above and beyond what is already built into your daily routine.  So you daydream about sneaking off to an abandoned beach, or ask questions like, “Would it REALLY be a problem if I slept in till 10am…”

You are in the midst of what I call a Self-Care Emergency.

A Self-Care Emergency is any situation you find yourself in where if you don’t get your Self-Care on, you are going to face a consequence, whether that is an illness (like a cold or flu, not necessarily a grave or life-threatening illness, but something that knocks you out for a day or two), an argument with a loved one you will later regret, a food binge, or some other not-so-positive experience that throws you off track.  

Recently (like 2 weeks ago☺) I attended a conference with my husband.  I looked forward to IFM’s (Institute for Functional Medicine - where I do most of my Integrative Medicine training) Annual Symposium and the fantastic opportunity to learn about some cutting edge testing and technology that can directly benefit the women I work with.  So here I was- almost a week of conference ahead of me, excited about the learning and intellectual stimulation, but feeling like all I wanted to do was sleep in and relax.  I was looking at it as a vacation from my normal routine- which apparently I needed.  Badly.

My practical side got the best of me, though, as I marched onward and pushed through, making the 8am lectures and going through till 6pm, followed by late evenings enjoying some time with my husband.  But it was a far cry from a relaxing break.

Fast forward to Sunday night- due to unexpected flight delays and missed connections, what was supposed to be a nice, early evening arrival home turned into a stressful day, a midnight arrival home, and a full day of activities starting the next morning.  Oh, and a rather full week.

I was stuck in my own Self-Care Emergency, ladies.

Because I work with lots of women, most – if not all – of whom would benefit from upping their own Self-Care, because I have birthed, nursed, and raised two babies, and because I pushed through the hellish lifestyle that is medical residency (or at least was my experience of it), I have learned firsthand both the importance of Self-Care and the severity of what can happen if it is missing from your life.

It is not good to wait until a health crisis hits before declaring a Self-Care Emergency.  The Emergency is that moment when you are on the brink of an unwanted consequence, while you still have a chance to avert it.

Of course, the ideal situation is to be building Self-Care into your daily routine but also adding extra elements when things are particularly busy or stressful, or even when it’s just been a while.  Like for me, and that needed vacation.  Not only was my trip no vacation, but I also hadn’t built in any post-trip recovery time.  And I know better than to push myself until exhaustion.

But here’s the good news:

Health symptoms and illness are simply information, and often our body’s way of getting our much-needed attention.  Drawing us back to focusing on our physical health and well-being and what is needed to support ourselves.  Which usually involves some extra rest and TLC.

So suffice it to say that even if you think you’ve got this Self-Care piece down, it’s always good and important to check in, see how you’re REALLY feeling, and ask yourself what you need to support yourself today.  And to pay attention and really listen to your body and what it’s asking for.

Ask “what can I do to support myself today?”, and then simply pay attention to what you’re drawn to do, to eat, how you’re drawn to move, if you feel like a power nap, like walking barefoot in the grass, or just taking a few slow, deep breaths.

It doesn’t have to be difficult. And as you become more experienced and seasoned, so will your Self-Care repertoire.

So make sure to make Self-Care a top priority, to prevent the Self-Care Emergency, and continue to ask yourself each day “How can I best support myself today?”- just a few minutes daily will do wonders and pay off big-time.

To Your Best Health,
Dr. Kendall Ritz☺