What does it mean to ‘take care’ of yourself?

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Care is a vital part in health ‘care’. But what does this even mean?

Does it mean that we feel sorry for other people and are motivated to do good things for them from that sadness and sorrow?

Does it mean that unless we feel emotions for their experiences that we do not care?

Does it mean showing emotions and reactions to the experience of another?

Does it mean that we are not caring if we don’t react or display any emotions to what a person is experiencing?

Or is there something more to care?

We know that people who indulge in behaviours like smoking, drinking alcohol, eating too much and taking recreational drugs, going out late and not sleeping enough and not eating nutritious food are not ‘taking care’ of themselves. Repeated behaviours like this lead to an accumulated toll on the body.

But I question where do these behaviours come from? We would call these ultimately behaviours of self abuse, but what motivates a person to make these choices? In the case of excessive eating, perhaps a person may feel that they are taking care of themselves, using food as a place of care. When they feel down or sad, using food to make themselves feel better, to feel comforted. People who go and smoke may also feel as though they are taking care of themselves in some way, taking the time to smoke to help them to cope with life. Feeling comforted by the burning of the smoke filling their lungs.

But is comfort really the same as care? Now there’s food for thought!

What if the things that we have been thinking of as care, are actually forms of comfort?

And what if comfort is more about numbing what the body is feeling rather than deeply taking care of the body, providing the body with what it truly needs to heal?

What if instead, care is about providing the body what it truly needs to heal, to feel healthy and truly well and vital? Rather than give us something that makes us temporarily feel ‘better’? Continue reading

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Work Life Balance – How to get it

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‘Work life balance’ is something that is different for all of us and our understanding of it and what we want this to mean and how we understand it may change as we age and have more life experience.

Essentially the key foundation of achieving true work life balance is to know yourself as a person, and to know that there are many facets to you as a person and they are all equal and deserving of and needing care in all areas. If one of these areas is ‘out’ so to speak then it has a knock on effect on all of the other areas of our lives as well.

Its key in this to know that work is not separate to life and not something to try and to be minimised, but rather to understand that it is simply a part of life, just like everything else.

It’s important in life that we take care of all areas of our life, starting with taking care of our physical and emotional health and well-being. When it comes to work-life balance we need to know where to focus and when. The approaches we take and choices we take will be different for all of us at different times as our circumstances are all different.

Often we seek ‘work life balance’ when we feel work has taken too much of our focus and time in our lives and our health and well-being has been affected, leaving us feeling tired, unwell, rundown and unfulfilled in other areas.

In reaction to that excess of being dominant work focussed, we can then sometimes focus on doing things like entertainment to distract us from work and in that some of our activities may actually be harmful for the body like drinking alcohol, eating excessively and/or unhealthily, sleeping late or too little, or perhaps having risky hobbies.

But if we do not live well in time when we are not ‘at work’ then this can create tiredness and fatigue and at times more ill health that then carries on to how we feel when we are at work. This approach also leads to an unhealthy impact on the body, no different to the unhealthy impact of being too consumed by work!!

If we want to feel well, and we don’t feel well from being consumed by work, it doesn’t make sense to compound ill health with choices outside of work that make us more unwell…

Many of us seek to work less when we are feeling tired and run down, and how we are at work may be part of this, however how we are in non-work time equally affects us.

We are made tired by both how we are at work and what is going on at work as well as how we are in our ‘personal’ time.

Continue reading

Healthy Lifestyle Tip – Value Your Self

In life, we are not taught to value ourselves.

Our whole education system is about marks, learning, repeating information and not taking too long to get your postgraduate qualifications in case you ‘hold someone else up’ coming through the system.

We are not valued for what we bring, and in particular we are not at all valued for who we are.

We learn from very young that who we are has no value, but it is learning information, or perhaps sporting achievements or being ‘the best’ at something that has some sort of value, so we start to constrain our natural personalities, conforming to some mould that does not reflect who we are.

That moulding comes from not valuing who we are, so that pain of having no value lives always deep within us, covered up by the mould. Its gets even greater as we get older as we get no feedback of value for who we are and what we bring underneath it all, as in particular we never share that deeper sensitive part of ourselves with the world!

If we do not value ourselves and do not truly value what we bring, then we are well on the way to burnout, giving up on life, withdrawing and not coping, feeling that what we do brings no value to people.

If what we do and bring makes no difference then after all, why bother, right?

When we don’t value ourselves, we start to make choices that are harming and not truly healthy. Continue reading

Healthy Lifestyle Tip – Self-Appreciation

When in our lives, and particularly in medicine, do we get taught to appreciate ourselves, or learn that it is an important thing to do?

Let me answer that for you: Never!!

In medical school we learn that we need to get the marks and learn things; we learn that there are consequences if we get things ‘wrong’. We learn to tip toe around certain individuals, please people, say the right things, bury the natural feelings and needs of our own bodies to do ward rounds standing for hours on end, stand in theatre for hours on end, with no toilet breaks or opportunities for hydration, to take phone calls at times that don’t suit us, to not get breaks to feed ourselves, to be at the mercy of the opinions of the senior doctors that we work with, we take criticism and at times harassment from other health care staff and administration, but, never at any stage do we learn to appreciate ourselves. Continue reading