As a healthcare provider and woman, I think this post is very important to my fellow women or healthcare providers. I will open up about something I have written about before, but not explicitly. Currently, I have the Flu. It has hit me all of a sudden, as with Influenza virus. I am medicated as I knew the symptoms and seek help fast, and I also had my Influenza vaccine, so it gives some protection. I still caught the Flu from my patients. I use all the infection control protocol, Clorox and Bleach disinfecting the whole exam room, Lysol spray, washing hands a million times, wearing a mask all the time, and using hand sanitizer every 2 minutes. I do everything to keep myself and others from getting sick, but the Influenza virus is spread in droplets through airborne and contact precautions. I know to stay hydrated with a lot of liquids, water, and try to eat a light diet such as soup and rice. It is hard as I can barely drink half a cup of soup without feeling nauseated and do not have an appetite. I know how my patients feel when they say they feel like they were hit by a bus when they have the Flu because I woke up yesterday feeling like something robbed all the energy out of me, myalgia (muscle pain), headaches, chills, fever, sweating, nausea. I used to have the strongest immune system, but I had to call off work due to my symptoms and go see my own PCP for medication. I knew there is no way I can work almost 11 hours while feeling so miserable. For the safety of my patients and myself, I needed to call off. I hope I recover fast with all the rest and sleep I will try to get and Tamiflu medication. Healthcare providers are in the worst position as we do not even get sick days. We are looked down upon for calling off when our very jobs get us sick. I love caring for others and it is my passion to using my medical knowledge, skills, and training to make others feel better. That does not change the fact we are humans too. We are not machines. We need self care to cope and recover from illness. Healthcare providers have this innate guilt of always being there for others, and not knowing what it feels like for someone to care for them. That is why I emphasize self care to my patients and try to practice it myself. It prevents burnout so we can continue to be there for others. You cannot serve from an empty cup, and definitely not from being ill.
Here are my favorite self care tips.
- Rest when you need to. No need to explain to anyone else or get anyone’s approval. If your mind or body needs physical rest or emotional unwinding, prioritize it. Anyone that respects and cares for you enough, will support you, not make you feel guilty for taking “me time.” I teach this concept to patients all the time. Humans need to recharge, some more than others. Introverts especially. I need peace and quiet. I cannot stand too much loud noise or large crowds for too long. It is a matter of personality. Extroverts recharge in company of others.
- Drink a lot of water during the day, at least 8 cups, but more if you are sick for acute infection as your body will be more likely to get dehydrated.
- Do activities you enjoy, or make you happy. Life is too short to work 24/7 with no intention of living in the present moment. I make time to do things like exercise, when I am not sick that is. I love writing and blogging, and I am working on a book. I make time for my friends and family to go out to lunch or dinners, trips, or just chilling at someone’s home. Your hobbies and passion make you glow and bring your happiness, so make time for that. Do not lose yourself in trying to please others all the time. I used to be very passive and let others decide things for me and walk all over me as that is what Indian girls are taught to be growing up. I fought that and followed my dreams after making many sacrifices with education and career for my family that only led to resentment or bad situations such as workplace harassement at my old job. That is a whole different post I will do in future. Women deal with so much inhumane things that men do not even realize.
- Anxiety is real, and not a made up notion. For me, it is situational from the harassement and abuse I dealt with. I was fine before. For others, it has different triggers, or no trigger at all. I have treated many people for anxiety and depression, yet in the society, especially Indian orthodox sectors of society, people do not understand it. If someone points fingers at you or your past, know that you deserve better. The worst things someone can do is to dismiss someone’s feelings without understanding where they stem from. No human being deserves that. Do what you need to take care of yourself, and the right person will be supportive and not add stressors. True family and friends make your life better or help you cope, not add reasons for anxiety. Journal, talk to your best friends, travel, nap, watch your favorite show, go on a hike, meditate, pray, do what you need to help you. Self-care is not selfish. Each person copes differently. Travel, hiking, dancing, writing, is therapy for me. Each individual needs own time to self-care, and that is perfectly OK, especially for us women. Men can come home and throw their shoes and put their feet on couch while women come home from work to care for the home and family too. How is this OK in the 21st century when it is about equality and partnership. Say NO to anyone or anything compromising your peace of mind. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201507/10-signs-you-re-dating-narcissist%3famp Time is most valuable asset, one cannot get back months. Time is investment more valuable than money. Do not allow anyone to waste your precious time if you are an option, not a priority. Do not give people second chances when you should have walked away 1st time when you are a back up plan or option while they keep searching for someone better. No one should take 8 months to meet up for 4 hours if unless you are just an option while you made them your priority. Its not matter of having time, its matter of priority. No one should feel alone with you in front of them. No phone call or text email is more important thsn building a real connection with someone. Worst manners or lack of. No date is a bussiness meeting. Women, you are not a man’s therapist or bussiness partner to only talk about himself and his family or bussinness. If he does not care to ever ask about your friends or family, puts you down for having goals, hobbies, own life goals that dont align with his, intelligence and courage to say no, walk away. Self care, not self destruct. This is not 1950s Indian village of auditioning to submissive daughter in law and housewife 101. The right man will be supportive and value the same qualities that make you the individual you are. It will not scare him, or cause insecurity if you earn more or have a successful career that takes you places! It will make him proud have a strong independent woman next to him, not behind in his shadow. Do not lose yourself in pleasing others all the time. Learn to say no and have standards for disrespect. Women, and men, do not let anyone or “orthodox traditions” dictate what career or education choice you make, or what hobbies or friends you have. That is not healthy. Also, this is 21st century. You did not get education, fight cancer, become strong, travel the world alone building courage as a female, working full time, to be living in orthodox joint family, having a man and his parents control your mind, body, career, hobbies, major life decisions. You are not a puppet. The right man will not make you feel alone, an option, or a puppet. Self care.
The methods of self care are different when you are sick of course. As my PCP (primary care provider) told me today, a fellow colleague, that do not exercise for next few days. You need to rest a lot. She is right. I am the type of person that loves to be active and exercise, dance, workout at the gym, all of which are important for self-care, but not in the case of recovering from a severe viral infection such as the Flu. I can barely eat anything, let alone use up any ATP, or energy storage for exercise. I felt like passing out due to lack of energy and fatigue when walking down the steps this morning. I hate asking for help though from family or friends. Nurses are innate providers and givers, that we care too much, yet we do not let others care for us when we need it. My best friend pointed this out to me when I told her I barely drove to my appointment to get medication. She asked why I did not ask a family member to take me. I said I don’t want to be a bother. I finally asked my mother to make soup for me, as I needed to let others care for me once in a while. We are so used to caring for others, and burning out. I realized it is OK to be cared for.
I am getting chills again now, and body aches are back, need to take more pain reliever and sleep.