Dear Sister Docs,
Recently, I was discussing self-care in our Physician Wellness Program. I know the term self-care is thrown around a lot, and it is becoming cliche to talk about it. But from my personal experience, I can tell you just how important it is and how when we do not take time for it, we burn ourselves out more and more. I burned myself out after becoming a mommy doc trying to be a superwoman at work and supermom at home. I burned the candle at both ends and buffered away negative feelings with Netflix and ice cream.
You see, we cannot give or pour from an empty cup, that is for sure. When we attempt to, we run on fumes of resentment and obligation. And I would argue it is not true giving when we do so with those feelings in our hearts.
Now I am not here to guilt you or shame you for not prioritizing self-care. That is the last thing we need, but I am here to ask you to look at your thoughts and consider what you might be thinking that keeps you from taking time for yourself:
Perhaps you are thinking:
- It is selfish to take time for self-care
- There is too much to do to stop for self-care
- Other things and other people need to come first before me
- Women sacrifice themselves for others
- We doctors are superhuman. (Many of us were taught that in residency in subtle ways when we were told to ignore our bodily needs for food and sleep at times.)
I ask you to question these thoughts and see how they make you feel, what actions they lead you to take, and ultimately what result you are getting.
What I have found for myself is that when I used to think self-care was selfish, I would feel resentful. That would lead me to do things out of obligation, and my attitude was terrible at home and work. I would also do just the bare minimum because I felt low on energy. The result was that I showed up as selfish, which was the complete opposite of how I wanted to show up.
When I changed that thought to:
- self-care is never selfish and
- self-care is also other and community care
I started to take more time for my morning self-care routine and then could show up as the calm, collected, loving mom, wife, and doctor that I wanted to be. I would then go above and beyond the expectations and contribute more than needed as well. I was able to show up more selflessly because I had an abundance of energy to give from.
So, Sister Doc, I ask you what thoughts do you have about self-care and how might those thoughts be impacting you and those around you?
To Uplifting Our Sister Docs!
Archana Shrestha, MD, MS
Chief Wellness Officer & Co-Founder
Women in White Coats
Archana Shrestha, MD, is a physician, certified life coach, speaker, author, and entrepreneur in Chicago. She is the co-founder of Women in White Coats, co-author of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” book series, and the Chief Wellness Officer at Mighty Mom MD, where she coaches high-achieving women on wellness and weight loss. Learn more about her by going to MightyMomMD.com. She can be followed on Instagram @MightyMomMD