Earlier this year I saw Elizabeth Gilbert when she spoke in Ottawa (best known as the author of the book Eat, Pray, Love).

One moment sticks out in my memory.  She asked the audience to think of words to describe the women in their lives they admire.  Please take a moment, close your eyes, and try it yourself now.

Capable, strong, inspiring, badass.  Empowering words.  

However, she said, “relaxed” is a word that almost never comes to mind.

When we picture a relaxed woman, we imagine a woman in a white bathrobe at a spa, surrounded by candles and flower petals.  We call this self-care.  But in general, most physicians are not at all relaxed in their day-to-day.  Is there even such a thing as a relaxed doctor, especially now? We’re often in survival mode, putting out one fire after another.

This got me thinking—what does real self-care look like?  As busy doctors, is it possible for us to be more relaxed in the context of all the things we juggle?

The answer is a resounding yes.  But true relaxation doesn’t come from massages and pedicures (not that you shouldn’t do these things—you totally should).  Genuine self-care shouldn’t be an expensive ritual you treat yourself with while on vacation or for your birthday.  It should be a daily practice that helps you feel better amid chaos.

True self-care comes from getting clear about our priorities and what we want from life.  And it comes from paying attention to how we spend our time and whether it is aligned with our goals or not.

It can be about the big things. Your job, relationship, health, or overall life dissatisfaction.

But it can also come from paying attention to the little things.  Doing just a bit better in our choices.  Like eating more vegetables.  Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  Going to bed early instead of watching TV. Checking out that yoga class you used to like.

Sometimes it’s about sitting in silence and listening to your inner voice when it tells you that you’re getting off-track. True relaxation comes from knowing that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to do.

I believe your life has a unique purpose that goes beyond your “to-do” list.  True self-care is about connecting to that purpose and giving it room to develop and expand.

If you would like to explore what it might take to become the next, more relaxed version of yourself, I can help.

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