Self-Care is NOT Selfish
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
By: Dr. Natalia Echeverri, OB-GYN Specialists of South Miami
Dr. Natalia Echeverri is a Colombian-born, Miami-raised mom, wife and OBGYN. While in medical school at FIU, she was a founding member of the Mammography Art Intiative, providing mammograms for underserved women. She's passionate about women's health, particularly interested in the adolescent age group.
As women it has been engraved in us that we must always carry on.
You may not even realize that you are part of the so-called “carry-on” culture.
No matter what happens, carry on.
No matter how tired or sick, we carry on.
We put ourselves last, always.
I follow an inspiration instagram blogger, Natalie Crawford, who is also a physician. She recently blogged about the carry-on culture. She focused on miscarriages. The response was overwhelming. Thousands of women responded about their own personal, devastating experience. Most expressed that the most difficult part, besides the loss of the pregnancy, was the expectation to carry on. Even in our darkest hour, grieving the loss of hope and new life, we continue to go to work. We pretend everything is okay. We bleed silently. We carry on.
Is this the right mind set? Is it okay to always carry on? The answer is an obvious and resounding “no.”
Every new year we all set our intention: to be healthier, skinnier, kick those bad habits. But, how often do we actually make ourselves the priority?
I was asked to write about claiming your stake. A topic, that to be honest, does not come naturally to me. I, like many of you, do not often claim my stake. My kids, husband, patients all come before me. When the kids get sick, pediatrician appointments are readily made and medications are prescribed before days end. Husband doesn’t feel well? A pseudo-CVS pharmacy is laid out on the kitchen counter. Patient needs me while I’m vacationing, my cell is always on. I even started looking for that lost yorkie in Pinecrest in January whenever I drove my son to school.
I am not an isolated case. I started looking around at my friends and I cannot remember that last time ANY of my girlfriends took a sick day. We all hustle through our minor illnesses to save our sick days for when our families need us, we check our emails and stay connected to the office during vacation, and we all juggle family and work life...putting ourselves second, third, or last.
After I was contacted by HOL, I decided to challenge myself and make me the priority before tackling this blog. Two things I want you to note, 1. I called it a challenge because for me (as is for many of you) this is a monumental challenge. Taking time for myself meant putting others second, even if it was for one hour a day. 2. I needed to be able to write a truthful piece, and up till a couple months ago I was NOT claiming anything for myself.
So, I decided to go back to doing what I loved: running. I wanted to run the Miami Half-Marathon for my birthday. That was my birthday present to myself. It was hard, the training was brutal. Finding an hour a day to run was even harder. But everyday, even if it was at 9PM after the kids went to bed, I pushed myself to run. After the first two weeks, I looked forward to my evening runs. I began to feel better, not only was I slowly getting back into shape but my mind felt clearer. After two months of training, on February 9th, I completed my 13.1 mile run. I had claimed MY stake- and it felt really, really good.
You don't have to run a marathon to take control of your health. It can be as simple as making sure you see your primary care physician and/or gynecologist this year- get your physical exam, lab work, and get a clean bill of health. Go to a weekly yoga class or take that evening jog. Take a sick day. Even better, take a mental health day! Or, start slow. Talk about what you’re going through with someone else (i.e. miscarriages, libido issues, stress at home or work, difficulties raising your kids). Chances are many of us are going through similar things. You are not alone.
The World Health Organization (WHO), defined Health as being “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” There are 3 components that we all need to work on:
Physical→ See your doctor for your yearly check up (not just when you’re sick). Pencil in some exercise. Mental→ Take time to be alone. Let yourself feel, unwind, destress. Get a massage or go for a relaxing walk.Take that vacation! Social→ Go to happy hour. Spend time with your friends.
*Fun fact: if you’re time crunched, you can kill a few birds with one stone...yoga (physical and mental)...run or walk with a friend (physical, social, and even mental well being).
2020 is not the year to simply carry on. It’s the year to stop, reflect, discuss, and take care of you.