February 15, 2023
A Letter From Dr. Watson: Indulgence or Self-Care?
There is something especially beneficial about my occupation as a doctor when it comes to my own healthcare. I have the great advantage of knowing the body’s underlying physiology, which can be very persuasive when understanding our own health. I have the vantage point of seeing client after client who is either suffering from or gaining from those physiological processes. Repetition and the near daily reminders of how behaviors influence health provide a welcome advantage when it comes to motivation, especially for those times I may not feel so inherently motivated.
My challenge, where I struggle, is in finding ways to convey to my clients the importance of their lifestyle choices on their health.
My hope is that by helping patients understand the underlying mechanisms of health and disease, that this education may inspire some to find their own motivation. Beyond my educational abilities, health and the motivation to remain healthy really comes down to the client truly understanding their most basic “why.” Why do they want to engage with me? Why do they want to be healthier? Why do they want to live longer?
Anyway, despite what I know and what I see every working day; despite the advantages I feel I have, I also have my own struggles and challenges.
I feel I do a reasonable job at separating work and home life, though the balance is a bit lopsided. I say it so often when working with clients: stress relief and self-care are critically important to health. In trying to explain the importance to patients, I explain how most of my clients arrive knowing that changes in diet and movement will be part of the program. They will engage, though often reluctantly. As I say, some would rather sit with a fork in their eye than exercise, but they will often do it. However, where I seem to be the least effective is in helping my clients understand the importance of stress relief and self care, and to actually practice it regularly.
I also have to wonder if it is just my own struggle with the topic that’s makes it loom larger in my mind than it is.
I’ve never been great with self-indulgences, in some regards. To take the time or spend the money for a massage for myself is near impossible. Sitting for 30 minutes during a haircut makes me crazy. One of my greatest loves and most therapeutic hobbies is photography, yet I have been nothing short of terrible at taking time to do so. I don’t do it for the end result. I often don’t even get the pictures out of the camera. I don’t care for anyone else to see the pictures. It is just the zen-like process of the photography itself. The rest of the world goes away for a while and it is just me… and nature… and the process.
Recently, while on vacation on the Oregon coast, I was reminded of that zen-like pleasure of my photography. I’m sure I’ll get no “keepers” as conditions have been so gray and poor. But I was made aware that, like my clients, I also will eat right, exercise, focus on quality sleep, and more, but I really need to put more (relaxed) effort into stress-relief and self-care.
I must train myself to stop viewing much of what I consider to be self-indulgent as more therapeutic and actually very beneficial to promoting my health and longevity—not to mention the peace and happiness of those around me.
I don’t write much, but I hope this blurb will encourage you to stop and take a look at your own life, and how your own health and happiness may benefit from viewing a few more self-indulgences as self-care.
Please. Relax and find your zen.