On the surface, self-care is one of those general terms encompassing life’s key wellness elements: eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising, and so on. But making time for yourself is easier said than done for many busy people. Balancing her own career, family, and a hectic schedule, Sheila Jhansale, MD, a Kaiser Permanente physician in the Salem, Oregon, area, understands that.
“Overextending ourselves can leave us exhausted and missing out on greater opportunities to stay focused on our values that help us thrive.” she said. “You should really be living your best life possible based on what is important to you.”
According to Dr. Jhansale, self-care is more than booking a spa day — it’s incorporating the things you value into your daily life and creating space for yourself to do so.
Dr. Jhansale offers self-care insights for patients looking for everyday wellness guidance.
It’s the time of year to overdo it, to take on more work or that extra holiday obligation or expense, and to tax yourself without realizing it. Accept, or even embrace, your limits and practice saying “no” to the things you really don’t have time for.
Physicians sometimes tire of their own trite refrain: start exercising. Instead, Dr. Jhansale emphasizes moving at your own pace. If it feels like exercise to you and you enjoy doing it regularly, then you’re doing it right.
“Exercise is going to look different for everyone, and you’ll be surprised at how much just a little movement can get creative juices flowing,” she adds. “It’s not how far you go, or how many calories you burn, it’s how you feel afterward.”
Dr. Jhansale says that individuals with higher mindfulness have greater resilience, thereby increasing their life satisfaction. To cultivate mindfulness and gratitude, focus on the present moment or create a gratitude journal where you write down 5 things you’re grateful for every day. Before you know it, you’ll find it easier to maintain a positive outlook even during the most stressful times.
If the morning run you’ve taken for the past few years isn’t as invigorating as it used to be, or the organization strategies you put in place for work aren’t working, it’s probably time to explore new solutions.
“Sometimes, we’re forcing something that’s not working instead of giving ourselves permission to find what does work,” said Dr. Jhansale.
Often, we try to follow the latest recommendations such as meditation, daily practices, and other lifestyle changes, only to find we’re following other people’s rules and have forgotten what drives us as individuals. Separating from technology and stresses can help you find the peace and quiet you need to explore the things you value most in life.
“It’s when we take the breaks, when we’re not hyper-stimulated, not so focused, that we can figure out what we truly value,” she explains. “Sometimes, you have to put the phone away and see what happens.”