The Magic of Self-Care

On my way home from work yesterday, I overheard a young lady, a student I assume - discussing with her friend the amount of time they were studying. 20 hours/day - is what I heard. That’s obviously an exaggeration. Anyhow, she was bashing about the term, “self-care.” “Like there really is any time for self-care, and poo-hooey, what is that anyway?”

Hearing this saddened me as I think about the American culture and what a “busy” culture we are. I remember being that busy that I started having heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, mental fogginess, not to mention being bo-o-o-ring and uncreative. I find these days that as I allow myself to rest, or just do things that I simply enjoy - life is so much more peaceful, and it brings me clarity as to what I wish to do with my life, and who I wish to be. The real fun to investing in self-care is the magic of creativity. I remember reading a book by Deepak Chopra, and he continually reminds us to ask ourselves, “Who Am I,” and “What do I want to do with my life?” At first, I thought - what in the world? I have never asked these questions - what deep questions to ponder?

Starting Cheers to Health was a production of a two-year battle of answering those very questions. Something I still struggle with now. Today, I am being called to say why I’ve started this, and why doing this work is SO important to me.

Initially, I wanted to start a business because that was the only logical way I could see an infinite financial income. Working as an employee, there will always be financial ceilings - there’s just no way for any Employer to be able to offer that sort of earning.

In 2005, I was puzzled one morning as my father came into my room - bright and early, which wasn’t too abnormal, but then he crawled under the covers of my bed. Talk about awkward - A few minutes of silence, and then I heard him weeping. I mean, sobbing - a grown man in his mid-50’s, balling his eyes out to his then, 24 year old daughter. I had NEVER – in.my.life. up to that point - ever seen a tear shed from his eyes, and there he was, crying in desparation, that I needed to help him financially because he believed, that he would not be able to support himself in his elder years. I was in shock, fear, filled with confusion & even guilt. As I hear him mumbling the words, “I want to kill myself--- I have no reason to live--- I have nothing left in my savings---” I was filled with guilt that I chose to run off to LA for college rather than stay in Vegas (This is a whole other story). I realize that my running off to college was not the sole reason for the depletion of his savings, there were a lot of things going on in our household at the time that just didn’t, or wasn’t - working.

I was working at a local hospital, about 50ish hours or so, many hours unpaid, eating on the way to work on my commute, while finishing up my bachelor’s in nursing. I was -- exhausted. Not just from the physical work of work itself, but the mental capacity I needed to keep up with school, and faaaar draining of them all - the emotional energy SUCK that came from having to deal with the tension in my family. I was done- I couldn’t handle the stress so I found a nursing travel agency, packed up - and ended up working in San Francisco.

I was still exhausted at that point. Even being miles away in a different state, I still felt the emotional drain of our family issues, despite not speaking with them for months at a time. I felt there was nothing else I wanted to do at the time but help my Dad with his request. As I was living my life to fulfill that request… talk about losing.my.identity. Throughout this process, I lost complete sight of who I was, what I wanted to do for my SELF, and found myself in a deep, painful depression that not many people know about. In my quest to finding a balance between being able to fulfill my father’s request and fulfilling my own quench for re-filling my soul, I found myself on a roller-coaster journey that has landed me where I am with starting Cheers to Health.

Nothing I could have ever done nutritionally in that story above would have helped me with the weight I gained or the pimples that surfaced. The root of that entire problem was in my deep desire to want to help my father but not knowing how- followed by being complicated in my losing my identity in the process. What if I would have focused on the weight I gained and continued to use ice cream to numb the deep pain that kept resurfacing?

I hear stories like the above many times over - while talking to my patients who come in with chronic diseases and other health problems. One story that has stayed with me is a patient whose health drastically deteriorated after a divorce. He then had a series of bypass surgeries and numerous heart issues. I remember talking to this patient about the emotional ripple of the divorce. He didn’t deny that his physical problems were a manifestation of the CORE issue being the divorce and relationship dynamics.

When I first started my nursing career, my goal was to work in the Intensive Care Unit, so that I could understand the whole body and how each organ is interrelated. I have since expanded on a much deeper level and see that the WHOLE body is really internal & external, tangible & intangible, thoughts & emotions, relationships, spirituality, career, nutrition, and life - combined.

While nutrition & exercise are important factors to keeping you healthy, there might be a deeper part of your SELF that could possibly need nurturing. I literally started feeling pains in my body that I never had, and I started to gain weight again – something that only happens when I’m living in Vegas.

If you’re a busy bee putting in numerous hours in study/work/taking care of others and sacrificing yourself in the process… here are just 5 reasons to prioritize yourself.

Reasons to do self-care:

  1. It helps you stay aware & conscious of what is really going on inside. What am I thinking, what am I feeling, what do I really want?
  2. Nourishing yourself means allowing you to be a better person, with yourself first, and then with others.

  3. It releases stress & tension in our bodies

  4. Improves mental clarity & focus.

  5. Sticking to it makes you HAPPY.