Self Care: Dare to Care Dare

Before you read what I write. I guess you would need-to know who I am and why would I write about self-care. Above all why should you listen to me.
I am, like many of you a mother, a doctor and above all an entrepreneur, I did not start off feeling that way. All my life I wanted only one thing-to become a doctor. Not because of some great inspiration or aspiration. It was because I was raised in India where accomplishment in the 1970’s and 1980’s was defined as “getting into medical or engineering school”. That was the ultimate gauge of personal success.
I worked all my growing years, giving up on friends and what someone would consider fun to get into medical school. Finally, it happened. I was seventeen and walked into medical school in 1984.
Since that time I have tried to quit medicine three times.
The first day of medical school was not cool, to say the least. Corpses and crows. Enough said about that. Well, I survived this. I did not find it fun to-learn 457 differential diagnoses of the liver failure. People died with and without care. I decided I wanted to get married and quit medicine. I was married off at the age of Twenty one.
Sometimes in life, you experience pain to help you grow. The marriage was a disaster, to say the least. I was married to a physician whose love for alcohol was more than anything else. It took me eighteen months to overcome the fear of public judgment before I chose to pick my life together and run away across state lines from the emotional and physical abuse of this marriage at the age of twenty-three. I was back in the protective arms of my parents and once again I chose my career. I left India at the age of twenty-five all alone in the 1990’s to do my residency here in the United States.
I was determined to make it on my own. I was blessed to meet several new friends and my present husband within a few years of moving to the United States. Soon I was married again and we started a family. In 1998 my son-was born, I Wanted to quit medicine again. This time it was guilt. Guilt of leaving my newborn in the arms of a stranger( baby sitter). Then my daughter was born. Since then every decision I made, was to do my best to be the ever present mother in the lives of my kids. So I chose a career at the VA ( Veterans Administration).
A few years went by as I tried to fit into a society that placed so much pressure on women like me to be a mother that showed up at school lunches and programs and yet put bread and butter on the table the for the family. In fact everyday, I felt like a failure. I was tired, overweight, frustrated and unhappy. The job was draining. Seeing over twenty-five patients each day, following regulations, guidelines that made no sense, I was burning out fast.
A few years went by as I tried to fit into a society that placed so much pressure on women like me to be a mother that showed up at school lunches and programs and yet put bread and butter on the table the for the family. In fact everyday, I felt like a failure. I was tired, overweight, frustrated and unhappy. The job was draining. Seeing over twenty-five patients each day, following regulations, guidelines that made no sense, I was burning out fast.
I was exposed to Integrative Medicine when I was in the VA. I went to my very first functional medical conference in 2011. This practice of medicine resonated with me. Conventional medicine was the practice of diagnosing a Dis-Ease and connecting it to a drug. Functional medicine, on the other hand, went back to the roots of physiology and biochemistry and sought the cause of the dis-ease and put together a path to get the body back to ease.
So as I started my functional medical practice and I noticed something very unique to women.
There are only two reasons women fall sick.
One is FEAR and the other is GUILT.
Due to these two feelings, our mind set is always geared outward. We are never authentic to ourselves. We try to fit in and blend. We are constantly trying to juggle and balance. I realized the only way to get my female patients truly well and not go down that spiral of depression, disease, disability and death was to help them realize their self worth, their personal values and their unique aspirations.
So self-care is my personal passion.
What we need to realize is that we all have one thing equal: Twenty Four Hours in a-day. Our lives today is how we have chosen to use those twenty-four hours.
Here are Five steps to overcome Fear and Guilt and utilize your time for the things that matter the most.

Step one: What do you value?
Many women value family over everything else. However, if you find you are spending more time at work than with your family then you are not respecting what you value. I remember quitting my secure Federal government job at the VA because I needed to give a ninety-day notice to take any time off. Kids do not give us ninety days notice to let us know they are performing at a school event. I quit the job for my freedom. The freedom to value what I wanted to.
For the above five areas rate yourself at-where you are on a scale of one-to ten.

There is a saying:
You can have anything you want, but you cannot have everything you want.
Our goal is to be above six or seven in the above areas. If you are not, then make plans to change that.
Step two: ​Be grateful.
Not that I am a big fan of Oprah but I do think she is a woman who makes some very powerful statements:

Having a gratitude journal is a must. It sounds simple but let me tell you there are many days I struggle to say thank you. I am so caught up in what is not working that gratitude can be the last thought of the day. So make it a habit to give gratitude.

Step three:​ Learn to forgive yourself
Mistakes happen. Life is full of mistakes. There is no shame in it but make it a point to learn from them. Guilt is too heavy a burden we needlessly carry on our shoulders. The choices we make are due to our belief system. Our belief system comes from our experiences and the experiences of our parents and teachers. If you do not like the results of your life, then make different choices and sometimes it means you have to be educated to think differently. Find a mentor or create a tribe.

Step Four: “You have to do it by yourself and you cannot do it alone”.
A very intriguing quote by Martin Rutte.
It means only you can fulfill your personal desires. However if you do not have adequate backing and support it makes the journey difficult. Look around you. Are you surrounded by people who maybe toxic to you? Toxicity is the same everywhere it simply means people harmful to you or your progress. Sometimes it may be our loved one like parents or spouse. You have to identify and learn to protect the inner child in you. This is where most women struggle. They struggle with both guilt and fear.
Step five: ​Identify your worst enemy: let it not be between your ears. The number of times we wake up to “I am not good enough”. “I cannot do this”, “I suck at this” is innumerable. I always ask myself if this were a friend who failed what would I tell her? I do try my best to treat myself as my best friend. Always be there for yourself so you may be there for others who depend on you.
To summarize:
Optimize your environments:
There are nine environments you would need to pay attention to:
● Family: Are you present? The greatest distractions have been our electronics. Have a “TIO “ time or turn it off time. Be present in conversations. A lot of times it is the quality of the time and not the quantity.
● Friends: Do you make time for them? Create events that will allow you to spend time with friends and meaningful relationships, The greatest take away from the Mediterranean study should not be olive oil and fish but the commaradere and collegiality that people had in their relationships.
● Fun: Are there days you let go and simply chill? If not make time for this.
● Network: if your career is is important do you network with other successful mentors in your area? Make sure you have time for this.
● Environment: Is your home and office conducive for creativity and innovation? Make sure your surroundings are stimulating not making you irritable.
● Health is a huge void for many physicians. We are stressed and overweight. Or we are thin and anxious. Make health a priority because if your cells are healthy your thought process is and so are your decisions. People look to us for their health, shouldn’t our health be a priority? If you do not feel well take time to get tested and your health optimized.
● Career and money are important but the latter is a tool. It is the side effect of what you do, not the goal of what you do. Choose a path and a job where you feel respected and fulfilled.
● Spirituality is the time you take out for non-material aspects of your life. Make sure you have this inner awareness.

These nine environments( adapted from Jum Bunch) are affected by what you do and do not do. Focus and take stock every month if possible.
Planning is the key. Planning time for nutrition of the body, mind and soul. Make sure you respond to life and not constantly react to it.
Life is not about balance it is about being in harmony with your decisions. I will close with this powerful saying by Marianne Williamson:

Dr. Nisha Chellam- Founder of Holistic and Integrative Center of Novi- The best place to find your best doctor – YOU!