You know those days when every single thing seems to be a challenge? On those days it’s as if every patient seems to give you a hard time, maybe they are a gagger, they are extremely dental phobic, they can’t lean back in the chair, or they talk to you non-stop and you need to interrupt them to try and get the work done? On those days you might even stay later than usual trying to accommodate extra patients, and everything required to get the job done. To make matters worse, you may not have had time to actually eat lunch (instead of inhaling lunch), barely having a split second to go to the bathroom or drink water. To top it off, on those kinds of days, maybe none of the patients seem to appreciate all of your hard work!
Of course you’ve had those days. We all have had them – right?
For many, many years, I would have those kinds of days, and get home completely exhausted, only to then take care of my two young boys – one of which was still nursing. More than anything I would look forward to getting the kids to bed and finally being done with my responsibilities for the day so that I could enjoy a brief moment in time to finally unwind. I survived the day! I deserved a treat! A brownie or a bowl of ice cream! I wasn’t picky, maybe even just a bowl of cereal (or two or three)!
Without fail, there was always a treat available to instantly help me unwind.
And this wasn’t necessarily a problem – except that I was having a hard time losing the baby weight after my second pregnancy and I knew that my way of unwinding wasn’t helping me get to my goal.
I felt like I had tried every diet and workout routine out there, and nothing was working. I felt stuck and frustrated. Naturally there was another bowl of ice cream available to help me overcome the feeling of frustration too. The funny thing was that I would eat the treats out of habit, not necessarily because I derived that much pleasure from it. That is to say, I had an ingrained habit to reach for food as a comfort, without really questioning whether it served me or not. In reality, I was mindlessly consuming treats instead of truly enjoying and savoring every bite.
What about you? After a long day seeing patients, is there a sweet treat or glass of wine with your name on it?
In the process of receiving weight coaching, I learned that despite being great at taking care of my patients, my referring dentists, and my team – I wasn’t truly taking care of myself. I would be exhausted and tired, and at the end of the day, I was resorting to comfort eating because it was an ingrained habit. I wasn’t asking myself what I truly needed.
Well, turns out – if I would have stopped to ask myself what I truly needed – I would have learned that I didn’t need more food. Whatever it was, it wasn’t waiting for me in the fridge or in the pantry.
What I learned through coaching was to truly tune in and ask myself the question “what do I need most right now”?
Each of us will find different ways to relax after a stressful day. Some of us (like myself) want food. Others grab a glass (or two) or alcohol. Some of us zone out with Netflix. None of these things are inherently bad, but when you think of yourself living your very best life – are these habits part of that vision?
I became aware that my “relaxation method of choice” so-to-speak involved tuning out and seeking mindlessness through food which was a problem because I wasn’t happy with my weight. What is your “relaxation method of choice” and is it helping you become the best version of yourself?
When I am honest with myself – what I usually need after a busy day is some quiet time, even if that’s just 5 or 10 minutes.
My question for you is the following: How are you unwinding after a busy day? And when you are tired or stressed, can you stop and ask yourself what you need most?
Stop and listen for the answer.
Some of us need the time and space to connect with ourselves.
Others need connection with a loved one or a friend, with a phone call or a visit.
Some of us need to move our bodies, others need to rest our bodies.
Sometimes we need a good nourishing meal. Other times we may just be dehydrated and need hydration. Pay extra attention to times that you may be inclined to eat or drink because it “feels good in the moment”, when you aren’t actually hungry.
When we learn to ask ourselves what we really need – and actually pause for the answer – we can truly start to care for ourselves.
Nowadays it’s all the rage to talk about self-care in the form of spa days, haircuts and pedicures (which mind you, these are all fantastic things). But I’d propose that self-care really starts by asking ourselves what we need and learning to take care of ourselves from the inside first.
It amazes me how we can run around taking care of so many people during the day, and lose sight of how to take care of ourselves in the process.
Asking ourselves what we need, and attending to ourselves doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Each of us has the opportunity to prioritize our own wellness and make our own care a priority.
So, answer this: after a day full of seeing patients, what do YOU need most?