by Dr. Constance Barone
Helping others drives my practice. For so many of us, our greatest purpose lies in giving back. Yet, in order to make meaningful contributions to the world around us, we need to bring our best selves to the table. That’s where self-care comes into play.
Self-care is essential to overall well-being, and yet it’s often relegated to the bottom of the priority list. Unfortunately, when we neglect our own needs, we can experience poor health, stress, low productivity, and burnout. We’ve all heard the phrase during air travel, “Before you assist others, always put your oxygen mask on first.” This simple safety instruction points to a greater truth: We can’t be of service to others if we are struggling ourselves.
Here are some self-care strategies I use when I need to clear my mind and restore myself so I can continue to thrive in my work and life. By making my own health and wellness a priority, I’ve been able to better help others.
1.) Get your Mind Clear!
Einstein once said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” When you’re feeling burned out, your mindset can lack clarity and focus. That’s when it’s essential to set aside time to refresh your thinking, reflect on your primary goals and gain perspective. For some, that means meditating, or reconnecting with nature. For me, I like to clear my mind with my 45-minute spin bike session, followed by an hour in the Jacuzzi and a weekly body massage. When I take the time to exercise and reconnect with my body, my mental outlook is improved. Whatever form your “mind-clearing” exercise takes, setting time for it in your schedule can have transformative effects.
2.) Explore your Surroundings
I love the diversity of San Antonio, and its culture and language. The city’s vibrant Hispanic culture reminds me of my own Italian heritage. When I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, I like to connect with my surroundings, and explore new things. On the weekends, sometimes I even take a “staycation” and explore my hometown like a tourist. I’ll delight in discovering a new exhibit, restaurant or park, and learning something new. By engaging in my surroundings, and taking time to explore and discover, I reconnect with my inner child, and am reminded of all the exciting and amazing things the world has to offer me. This is a refreshing, and even exciting process, especially when I discover a new find, or local favorite. By taking time to explore your surroundings, wherever you are, you’ll be surprised to see what you discover, even in your own backyard.
3.) Spend Quality Time
As a surgeon and business-owner, I’m constantly multi-tasking, managing schedules, and responding to patients needs, and the needs of my team. It’s easy to stay in a constant work-mode. With modern technology, it’s sometimes hard to disconnect from the office. When I’m feeling burnt out, I know it’s time for me to unplug, log off, disconnect and spend quality time with those I love. This can mean doing an outdoor activity with my kids, or simply getting tea with a friend. I’ve found that when I’m fully present, and enjoying the moment, I can get a better overall perspective on my life and career goals. Life’s small matters snap into focus, and solutions to previously unsolvable problems present themselves. By prioritizing quality time with those that we love, and those who inspire us, we’re reminded of our best selves, and the simple joys in life.
Ultimately, self-care has transformative powers. It can make us happier, more productive and successful in our lives. This makes sense: when we feel whole, healthy and happy we have the most to contribute to our relationships and careers. Clearing my mind, exploring my surroundings, and spending quality time with others are some ways I nurture myself when I’m feeling burned out. I encourage you to discover your own, and kick off your self-care practice today. When you find your own favorite practices, feel free to share them with me!