In the process of taking care of women for almost thirty years, I have found that my patients seem to put everyone else ahead of themselves on a fairly routine basis. It comes naturally to them, and many times patients cannot see this pattern occurring in their lives until it is brought to their attention. Carving out time for yourself can be very difficult and challenging, but not impossible. I should also bring up that physicians, who are also care givers, need to remember to create life balance in their lives. Here are some truths to consider:

  • You will never, ever, ever again get it all done
  • There really is too much to do and not enough time
  • Feeling good is what life balance is all about

The Need for Ritual

I have made a point of getting up very early in the morning, on average at 5:00 AM, for many years. One would most likely agree with me that most others are not up yet at that time! First things first….COFFEE! Some mornings I will sit and do my relaxation breathing and try to focus on the moment (please refer to our previous blog about breathing exercises). I read my Wall Street Journal and local newspaper online, complete the daily crossword puzzle (Alzheimer’s prevention), and then focus on the day ahead. If I have time, I will get my 30 minutes of exercise in before leaving for work. This ritual has served me well over the years. I find that when I am not able to do this every day, I have to work harder to become centered.

Some will do other things as a ritual; maybe an early morning walk, picking flowers from the garden for the kitchen table, starting the day with humor (watch an old Seinfeld episode, read the comics, etc.). There is no right or wrong ritual; however, it is a good idea to get rid of some rituals that are not productive…anything that leads to worry or anxiety would not be productive. What are the rituals that keep you connected with yourself or others?

Health and happiness are correlated to the warmth of relationships, connection with yourself and others, and carving out a part of your day for ritual.

Conclusion

I like to call taking time for yourself “healthy selfishness.” When I take a trip via air travel, before taking off for the trip, the steward or stewardess begins by going over safety concerns for the flight. Do you recall the part about a sudden loss of cabin pressure, the compartment above opening and an oxygen mask falling from above? Instructions are given that, “If you are with someone who needs assistance PUT YOUR MASK ON FIRST.” That used to bother me…I would always want to put the mask on my child or others before myself because that seems to be the right thing to do. I never realized that, if there was a sudden loss of cabin pressure, there are SIX SECONDS OR LESS before a person would pass out from lack of oxygen. If you place your mask on first, then you are able to help whoever needs it. HEALTHY SELFISHNESS!!!