Hello, lwbMD Family, and welcome to Our First BEACON article EVER! Here the goal is to highlight our quarter discussions and provide essential tools to implement our strategies for growth and wellness. Be sure to check out the links from guests highlighted in our ‘GET & STAY WELL LIVE SERIES on INSTAGRAM’ whom we’ve included to provide excellent resources, and SHARE with any and all who will benefit from our discussions.
Incorporate Self-care into Your Days & Passion Projects
When I first left full-time clinical medicine to manage my personal and professional health, I wasn’t quite sure what I would do to earn a living and stay connected, but what was imperative was that I continued to be OF SERVICE. Chicks With MDs provided an outlet to continue engaging, educating, and empowering the medical community and population at large. Now our platform, notably this newsletter, continues that mission to provide access and resources to those most vulnerable among us, SO LET’S GET STARTED!
Although I started my career with the intention to do no harm and honor my oath as a physician to my patients and community, it wasn’t until I was unable to perform my duties and practice my craft that my journey to service and fulfillment truly took form, and that has happened in a myriad of ways and platforms.
The most essential factor in being able to be of service is prioritizing, and practicing and honoring SELF CARE. I’m sure some of you just smiled thinking that focusing on self is the OPPOSITE of caring for others, but on the contrary, my friend. It took a career halting diagnosis and cataclysmic loss for me to accept, respect and begin to practice this principle that I ignored and viewed as a hindrance rather than a requirement.
Here are daily, monthly and yearly tools that you can use to get through this ‘chore’ of self-care:
- Rest: NO MATTER WHAT.
- Recharge:MIND, BODY and SPIRIT.
- Find Joy: IN THE EVERY DAY and the EXTRAORDINARY.
- Build a Sustainable Plan: MAKE IT REALISTIC, ACHIEVABLE and MALEABLE!!!
- Look at this Plan as a Part of Your Permanent Existence Moving Forward: The fastest way to deter yourself is to view these actions as temporary or distant from what and who you are or can be.
- Be Patient and Kind to Yourself as You Build: The most important thing you can do is cherish your body and life. It’s OK to reboot, start over, improvise and revise. Your life is a beautiful symphony…create and revise often.
Some essential thoughts regarding SELF CARE…The above tools have helped me honor my life, during times of fun, reflection, personal setbacks and great triumphs. My resilience comes from the practice of ALWAYS honoring my peace of mind and the hills and valleys traveled.
I want you all to know that success, joy, perseverance and unbelievable levels of fulfillment are within reach, and have very little to do with monetary or physical acquisitions, although those things can be very, very nice indeed. The goal is to walk a path of your greatest self and truest embodiment of the life you’ve envisioned and the greatness you hold within.
To take a deeper dive into techniques for self care, please check out this post by one of our first guests on Get and Stay Well Live, @DocSwiner
So now that we’ve gone over WHAT to do, let’s lay out a plan on HOW to get this done and enjoy every moment of the process.
Onto Our Action Plan
First thing, how are you?
Not just today, this week or after any particular event that may have occurred, but HOW. ARE. YOU?
That is what I have asked myself, not only since 2013 but really since I was a surgical intern just beginning my professional life. The one thing I made sure I did whether things were good or bad, was, and continues until this very day, is asking myself, ‘are you still on a path that feeds your soul and the voice that has lived within since I was a young child?’
The methods of how I ensure that I am indeed still on this path begins and ends with the points I outlined for self-care in Part 1 of our 2023 newsletter, so let’s plan this out for you, step by step over time.
Lately, I’ve been seeing the young folks talk about living the ‘soft life.’ A life where they have shifted from survival to peace, tranquility, and JOY. One where rest is priority, necessity, right, and not reward.
So, what does your relationship look like with REST?
REST – No matter what.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but for many of us, even when we are in our bed, passed out cold, we are not truly RESTING. There may be internal stressors, physical sounds out or indoors, chronic pains, intimate relationship strife, financial woes (fill in the blank) that weigh us down and prevent us from feeling at peace to provide a restful foundation.
Doc Bradley, I’ve found REST, but how does this enhance my PEACE of mind?
I’m glad you asked, Sunshine. In the Bradley home, we treat REST as a boundary. Here’s how:
- I create and honor my bedroom and area of meditation in our home. This may mean investing in a better mattress, headboard, sheets and comforter, painting the walls a soothing color, hanging black out drapes or simply cleaning and organizing what you already have in place.
- I consider the ‘feng shui’ of my rest space. Never underestimate how simply rearranging the location of your bed (feng shui bedroom layout) can enhance the energy of a space.
- If there are bright lights and noises outside (city life, anyone??), see if noise cancelling headphones, eye masks or earmuffs (these actually work great for me- I can still hear but sound is dulled and the warmth soothes my soul).
- The other way I create PEACE is how I wake up. A soft rug at the bedside, meditation and prayer in bed before I start the day, room temperature water on my nightstand to start the day hydrated and SLOW.
PS: always check in with your doc or health care professional to make sure your routine and/or acute health maintenance is optimized.
Some additional thoughts …
Throughout the year, I encourage you dive into the soft life. The slow phase. Romanticize your rest and watch your joy, peace, health, and productivity soar.
As always, I hope that you are well, or at least working toward actions and routines that help you create a restorative and creative way to build a more fruitful and healthy way of doing and being.
Last time we spoke about REST and how essential it is to create a safe haven for capturing those precious moments to allow our body, mind, and spirit to recuperate from the daily activities that often deplete our energy.
So now that you have a plan for REST let’s discuss the next essential task for self-care, RECHARGE. Meaning-filling our sacred vessel-body, mind, and spirit- with the wonderful assets that protect us.
Recharge-MIND. BODY. SPIRIT.
I am aware that some of the circumstances of your life are fixed realities that will take a long time if ever, to resolve. But to that point, I ask if you do have the capacity to CHANGE or safely EXTRACT yourself from an unhealthy work environment, toxic relationship, or some other personal/professional endeavor that may have run its course or turned out to be unfruitful.
The other thing that we must ask ourselves, even when things are optimized around us, and yet we cannot find peace, is, have we created a warm environment to nurture our body, mind, and spirit?
- What are you eating? Is it nutritious and balanced? Are you hydrated?
- What form of exercise/meditation-yoga, running, Pilates, Zumba, line dancing, hiking, stepping, walking, chair aerobics, swimming, etc., have you incorporated into your schedule? The most common thing folks say is they have no time. I challenge you to check your weekly update of your time on the phone and see just how many minutes and hours you widdle away, ‘NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF’. Check your personal calendar and MAKE TIME
If you LOVE fun in your work out, please take a tip from our great guest, Joanne Martinez, health hero advocate and ZUMBA MASTER
For those who like the mellow, low key options, please take a look here at another guest, TJ BOOTH and how he addresses mental health and clarity.
Some of these options are pretty straightforward… adjusting your diet, drinking more water, looking for a new job, while others-unsafe home/work/familial environment will require complex planning and decision making.
What I want you to do, whether straightforward or complicated, is to begin to CONSIDER a plan and create a date, ideas, and a timeline on how you can begin to bring these ideas to fruition.
I have done these very things in my own life and have proven that BEGINNING is the first and essential step to getting any and all things done.
So, give it a try and let me know how things are going.
Be patient with yourself and know that this is all a journey.
Check out this info on emotional wellbeing by another of our Get and Stay Well Live guests, Tah Whitty.
FINDING and INCORPORATING JOY into OUR EVERYDAY LIVES
My physical and digital planner keeps me honest and provides reminders to TAKE TIME for self-care, even when the allure to do more and care less is expected from others.
Another practice I always make time for is ‘FINDING and INCORPORATING’ Joy and the EXTRAORDINARY into my everyday life.
For me, this means beautiful plants and other living things that can nurture me and the world around those I know and love. Anyone who talks to me long enough will find out, in short order, that I am easily distracted by plants in my home or any other place they can be found-TV, the internet, library, school, someone’s office… you name it. If there’s a plant around, I’m on it to make sure it’s thriving, and if not, WHY NOT??!!
Even as a young child, I would walk up to the attic and water abandoned dracaena, pothos, and other plants that thrive from neglect. Green life provides many benefits, including beautification, improving energy, removing toxins from the air, and simple joy from the process of caring for another living organism.
Can you think of something right now that doesn’t cost you a thing but brings joy?
Seriously. Take walks/strolls/mobility devices or medical attendants if you are so blessed. Even around your room, home, backyard, school, workplace, or anywhere, you can find safety, peace, and tranquility. I often go to appointments in office buildings, banks, etc., and find many beautiful hallways, entire floors, and rooms that are adorned with plants, artwork, and books that are wide open and empty. If you work in these types of environments, USE THEM. Take your coffee break or lunch hour, or see if you can use these places for meetings, continuing education time, or some other task. It’s the little things that make life a bit more enjoyable. And imagine doing this every single day.
Many of us have wide-open spaces-fire, escapes, patios, terraces, backyards, and front porches. So many of them go untouched. Enjoy these spaces we have all worked so hard to purchase and possess. I have developed a passion for gardening and plant life, in and outdoors. There are so many things you can pursue that cost little to nothing-crafting, knitting, music class on YouTube, writing, reading, cooking, and coloring books. There are many FREE things to do-contact your local parks department, library, museums, aquariums, YMCA, and city hall. Volunteering also opens up a whole new world to give back and experience another aspect of society. GIVE IT A TRY!!!!
Over the next couple of weeks, really focus on finding those things that bring great energy and joy, then jot them down and begin to incorporate them into your daily, weekly, and monthly lifestyle. The more often you concentrate on improving your life, the sooner you will build a world that no longer requires your tolerance and need for escape.
MAKE TIME to create a world that is a breath of fresh air and welcoming to the life you deserve.
I’ve been thinking about all of the ideas we’ve discussed since the first of the year and wanted to share how I work on emphasizing self-care while honoring my creativity and daily responsibilities.
Thinking and desiring to do certain things are great, but every task requires a blueprint to guide my actions. Meaning that I outline and follow a Sustainable Plan for my long-term goals and weekly agenda. The most important guideline is to MAKE IT REALISTIC, ACHIEVABLE, and MALLEABLE.
Once you’ve decided to focus on yourself, WRITE IT DOWN or RECORD IT ON YOUR DICTATION DEVICE! It’s very easy to dismiss a thought or idea, but when you write it down as a plan of action, your mind goes into the RECALL zone, bringing up those missions and helping lead you on your way.
I keep a daily planner, which you can get from THE DOLLAR STORE (one of my favorite locations! Remind me to do a post on my fabulous frugal finds!!!), and a wall calendar. Another great option is to create a digital version that you can use on your phone or computer and be accessible wherever you are. Create simple, attainable daily tasks, weekly goals, and monthly objectives.
GETTING OVERWHELMED is another way to get you off track, even if you have an organized plan. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Know that there may be times events won’t get done on time or as anticipated. That’s OK and part of the process of finding your pace and determining your skill set. Allow room to learn is also a major part of this process.
IT’S OK IF YOUR PLANS or IDEAS CHANGE. This is your life, not a script for a play. Identify your passions-needs-requirements and be open to how the universe returns your actions and reactions.
As you grow and experience things, some tasks may eliminate themselves, whereas new ones may arise from thoughts or in response to something else you were exposed to or contemplated. THAT’S WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT!!!!
Take a moment to see if these options align with your journey. Please feel free to incorporate the planner and the objectives we discussed. If something else works better for your personal growth, please share it in the comments here or on social media. I always love to learn more ways to get things done and grow!
- COLOR- The ‘Chicks’ signature color is my go-to for energy and mood, but I will also make options in some of my other favorite shades-BLACK, SUNSHINE YELLOW, EMERALD GREEN, ROYAL BLUE, NEON PINK, and REGAL PURPLE. Let me know if your favorite color is not listed above, and I will add it to the options.
- EASE of USE-tabs, cloth sash, and a cozy corner to store pens and other essentials. I want an all-in-one device that provides access to write and store simple yet critical tools I utilize throughout the day.
- STYLISH-If it’s already fit for casual and business, you never have to worry if your journal will look out of place in a particular setting.
- REPLENISHABLE whether digital or paper, I want folks to have ease re-ordering or modifying their planner to allow it to evolve as you and your enterprise grows and grows, AND GROWS
Like all of my ideas, this planner and my growth will change over time.
Check-in with your own ideas and how your plans for the year are going so far.
If you are well on your way, GREAT! If you are still working on a plan and creating an actionable, doable agenda that resonates with your soul, JOIN THE CLUB! The entire point of this NEWSLETTER and our open dialogue is to provide support and a little nudge to get you going and encourage you to continue to build on your dreams.
For more info on advocating for yourself and those around you, please check out this post by our INAUGURAL GUEST of the Get and Stay Well Live IG LIVE Series, Dr. Nicole Rochester
Spring Is Here!!!
UTILIZE THE ENVIRONMENT as a TOOL for SELFCARE!!
Although this winter was MILD in the Midwest, I still adore the transition to warmer weather, sunshine, and the bliss of renewal and creation as the perennials sprout tiny buds that bloom into lush colors and vibrant bouquets.
Warmer weather and the outdoors provide many necessary nutrients for life. Here are four stellar ideas to get you charged up for a wonderful season of growth:
- Vitamin D-SUNSHINE! It is the best source, and it is FREE!!! Ensure you wear sunscreen, SPF 30 or greater, and a wide-brim hat when working in the yard, taking long walks or doing outdoor activities. The ozone continues to erode, and the incidence of skin cancer is reflective of CUMULATIVE UV ray exposure, so protect yourself and others around you by having some handy to apply and SHARE!!!
- Increase Activity- Some special souls are polar bears at heart but most of us hibernate during the colder months, and that leads to deconditioning and often weight gain that makes the physical activity even more laborious. Talk to your doc/health care provider and make a plan for a safe and fruitful exercise regimen. And once you have one that works for you, keep it up!! The best way to avoid the slump that happens with the winter months is to transition your plan indoors and KEEP IT UP! I am in the throes of a YOGA challenge I found on YouTube (READ-FREE!!!). Find an activity, pace, duration, and variety of exercise that works for you and keeps you motivated.
- Fresh and bountiful food and other living things. Whether you live on a palatial estate with acres of land or a fire escape off of a six-story walk-up, UTILIZE the space you have to plant tomatoes, herbs, fresh flowers, and other summer stock that you can keep in small planters, diameters of 2-12 inches will do. Likely transition to the indoors during the fall to continue and replenish your options for wonderful additions that you can use to create wonderful recipes and minimize utilization of grocery store finds that are pretty pricey and have been sitting around for days to weeks! You can get wonderful gardening supplies from the dollar store!
- PLAN IT OUT- As always, the best way to keep yourself encouraged and invigorated is to HAVE A PLAN and follow your progress. Now is a great time to research veggies and herbs and find the best spot in your home or outdoors to start the seedling process. Use your calendar to plot out how many weeks you have until the weather is good enough to transition young plants outdoors to prevent a late frost (Chicago folks-THIS MEANS YOU!). Use activity sheets and exercise plans to create a journey that does not immediately overwhelm and discourage. This is all about pace, grace, and growth. Take it easy on yourself.
- Finally, I know I said only four, but I think another great addition is to have a partner, team, or other outside resources (even if it’s just google) to bounce around ideas, get encouragement, and help to make good of the SPRING TIME good stuff you have in store.
Take a look at some of my pics of things I have already underway, and let me know how it’s working for you!
For many of us a change in weather is enough to boost our energy and mood but if you are still having feelings of the winter blues, please check out this post by another of our awesome guests, Rebecca Malley Fitzgerald, LCPC, therapist and owner of Shift Counseling.
As always, please MAKE TIME for the thing that matters most, YOU!
Enjoy those glorious days outdoors that let you know it was worth surviving another dreary winter (I’m really convincing myself of that fact!).
WHOA! What an adventure it’s been to get through our first BEACON article and see ALL of the progress we’ve made.
Let me know in the comments or on social media and tell me what you’ve done in the last six months, or whenever, to take charge and better care of you.