Hello dear ones, today’s Joy Prescription is inspired by two of the great teachers in my life. I recently spent a beautiful day with my dear friend and fellow integrative physician, Melinda Toney, M.D. As we walked in the forest along a lovely lake, we talked about the challenges our patients faced, particularly women in middle age as we often suffer in silence and isolation – juggling career and family, caring for aging parents, adjusting to the empty nest as our children leave for college, coping with intense peri-menopausal transitions, financial and relationship struggles. As women and caretakers we tend to put the needs of others before our own, and can end up feeling frazzled and depleted, especially when we aren’t surrounded by a community of trusted confidants.
Melinda and I shared our own personal strategies for staying balanced and setting boundaries in our professional lives. Then, in a teachable moment Melinda asked me, “how will you know if you’re getting over-committed?” What a great question! It’s so important that we look for and listen to the little cues that our body gives us before catastrophe strikes.
Upon reflecting on Melinda’s question, I was reminded of the words of another great teacher in my life, my pastor in Georgia, Dr. Fred Lodge, who taught me how to do a HEART check. Whenever my life feels out of balance, I ask myself if I’m feeling:
These painful emotions are tell-tale signs that I’m over-committed, neglecting self-care or drifting in my spiritual walk. If these questions are hitting a little too close to home for you today, don’t fear. I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. You may just need a nap, a sandwich, bubble bath or a little alone time to refresh your soul. However, if these signs are your constant companions, I encourage you to do some inner reflection. Are you falling into these common traps?:
- Trying to control the uncontrollable?
- Holding onto unforgiveness, regret or shame about your past?
- Constantly attending to others and neglecting your own self-care?
I’ll leave you with the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) for healing:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
I’d love to hear about your HEART check. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want inspiration to take a deeper dive into self-care, check out my blog post entitled “What does your body need to heal?”
Cynthia Libert, M.D.