10 Tips For A More Compassionate “You!”
Self-care is a practice I promote to my patients every day. Recently, I had a new patient come to my office and she said she felt “guilty” about taking care of herself – feeling that as a mother and wife, her needs were at the bottom of the “to-do” list. She finally made an appointment for her “self-care” to get a GYN visit and have her health needs met. I commended her for coming in!
How many of you have put your health care visit aside during these challenging times? Well, you’re not alone. Many have and I’m here to encourage you to start taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. As a healthcare provider, it is my life’s work to assure that others are healthy – both physically and emotionally. That’s where the concept of “self-compassion” comes in.
Medically speaking, self-compassion affects the hormones oxytocin & cortisol and directly affects how we deal with the stressors in our lives. If we start with being compassionate to ourselves, we can enhance our own emotional well-being and ultimately balance the scales in favor of selflessness over selfishness. Ultimately, we are being selfish if we fail to recognize that we need to be compassionate to ourselves before we can be compassionate to others.
Over the past weekend, I treated myself to a vacation in Palm Desert. It’s approximately 2 hours from my home in San Diego and a virtual oasis of palm trees, beautiful mountains and a dry heat.
I spent two days in total bliss--- doing absolutely nothing but sitting by the pool, reading magazines and gazing at the crystal blue sky. It was amazing! I came back to the office feeling rejuvenated and replenished after 6 months of continual work/home projects and repairs.
Please follow these 10 tips to start your “self-compassion” regimen!
Tip #1: First & Foremost, Care for Yourself
Just like my patient, taking care of yourself is paramount. If you are not present and accounted for with yourself, there is no way you can be so for others. Emotionally & physically, if you are running at peak performance, you will be able to give that much more to everyone else. Think about when you are rundown or sick…You cannot be the best for others when you cannot even be your best self. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself – including your health and wellness needs!
Tip #2: Be Patient with Yourself
Impatience breeds stress and anxiety. Things will happen in their own time. This doesn’t mean rest on your laurels. Rather don’t get stressed over the lack of immediacy we have come to expect in the “Everything On-Demand” world. Now, with Co-VID, many things may not go as planned. Let go of the things that you can’t control and be patient with yourself.
Tip #3: Be Generous to Yourself
This doesn’t necessarily have financial implications (though treating yourself to a day at the spa, going on a short shopping spree, or indulging yourself and friends is not a bad thing). Be kind to yourself and that will help you be kind to others. Share your time, energy, and expertise with yourself. We are great at a lot of things. Sometimes we forget how great we are as individuals and just how much the things we can do can make a difference in our own lives.
Tip #4: Stop Judging Yourself
Judging yourself is inherently negative. We are harder on ourselves than on anyone else. However, judging ourselves causes us to also judge others. Remember, none of us are perfect and we never will be. Accept that you have flaws and strive to overcome them. If you eat very unhealthy food and gain weight, don’t judge yourself because that only makes things worse. Accept that you are at a point where you have made mistakes and make the necessary changes to right them.
Tip #5: Don’t Be Afraid to Fail If You Want to Succeed
One of the most iconic figures in business today has failed more times than you will ever know. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, crashed and blew up rockets, was ousted from companies that he founded, failed many times while building Tesla into the company it is today. He has made failing an art form and pre-requisite for success.
Tip #6: Embrace How Weird You Really Are
Know that your weaknesses may be your strengths and vice-versa. Know that your quirks may be just the ingredients that make you awesome. We are not all the same and while you are not perfect for everyone, be confident in the fact that your weirdness makes you perfect for you! Our differences and traits make the world far more interesting.
Tip # 7: Understand That You Are in Good Company
At the time of this writing, there are 7.8 billion people on the planet. I can say with almost 100% certainty that there is someone else going through the things you are going through, feeling the way you are feeling, experiencing the emotions that are permeating through you at any given time. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.
Tip # 8: Schedule Your “Me” Time
Whatever your “me” time is, be it reading a book, going for a walk, taking a class, or cooking a meal…Do not miss it. This is your time to unwind and reflect. Think about you and what makes you happy.
Tip # 9: Eat Healthy & Exercise
I know what you are thinking. “Why does she keep telling me to eat healthy?” I know I need to eat healthy and exercise. But as it relates to self-compassion, it will help regulate your hormones, you will feel better about yourself, improve your immune function, and give you increased energy, which will help you be more compassionate to others.
Tip # 10: Try New Things
Skydiving was always at the bottom of my bucket list, but I know I wanted to try it. Will I do it again? No. But how would I ever understand the experience if I didn’t take the leap? I am not saying that you should go skydive…unless you want to. Go for a photo walk once per week and take photos of things that catch your eye. Or, be a tourist in your own town. I was talking to a friend who grew up in a small town of 2,000 people and he never actually explored the historical significance of this quaint Connecticut town. It made me realize that even though I live here…I have never put on my tourist hat and made it a point to explore San Diego.
I have made it a priority to practice self-compassion by receiving, understanding, and engaging in what I am experiencing at that moment. I listen to and embrace all of me. I urge all of you to do the same. It is only through self-compassion that we can truly be compassionate to others.
In Health & Wellness,