By Shree Agrawal
“Self-care” is a buzzword I hear often, especially as both a medical student and a yogi. Wellness experts say nourishing yourself is the crux in your care of others, and even more so in your overall health.
I have to admit, though, I have a few bad self-care habits. Tough weeks come in waves. From one week to the next, my version of self-care might transform from a yoga class or re-connecting with a friend to simply managing to focus on deep breathing to recenter and finding small rewards to look forward to at the end of the day.
Over time, I have adopted a new mantra. It is kindness.
While a routine self-care schedule works for some, I have learned it is difficult to anticipate my own needs during periods of high stress. I felt guilty and even more stressed if I was not able to participate in a self-care regimen. Remember, the goal of self-care is to feel well!
Take a moment, imagine you are talking to yourself, as a friend. How do you show kindness to your friend?
What is your response to your friend who hasn’t been able to see you for weeks and tells you they do have not had a break from a demanding schedule, feels terrible for not being able to spend time with their loved ones, or expresses they are running on empty?
Is it support? Is it comfort? Do you respond with understanding and empathy? Were you less judgemental? In moments of other people’s darkness, we are more willing to offer support than in our own.
When I started responding to myself with the type of kindness and understanding I would give to a friend experiencing an imbalance in life and work, I began to enjoy any small or large feats of self-care. If you cannot cook the meal you envisioned after a long day, or get that 5 mile run in after spending most of the week at work, respond with kindness. The same applies for when you cannot make a meeting or deadline because you needed a break from your work. I urge you to not feel guilty or distressed. Were you still able to do something to manage your stress levels? If so, congratulate yourself!
If am able to successfully refocus my energy, I move on. When the wave has finally passed, I make time to do all the other things I love to do outside of my professional roles.
How do you define self-care? Please share some of your tips below in our comments section!
Shree is a third year medical student at Case Western Reserve University, where she also completed her bachelors of science degree in biology. Prior to medical school, she performed prostate cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals of Cleveland. Shree is passionate about clinical research surrounding patient decision-making and medical education. In her free time, she enjoys blogging on the AWS blog, practicing yoga, and boxing.
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.