003: Are You a Healthcare Practitioner who Struggles with Self-Care? You’re Not Alone!
As medical practitioners, we all give lots of advice. We all say we know how to fix things, and people come to us for answers to their toughest questions. However, with our busy schedules, it’s easy for us to fail to practice what we truly believe in – and we often don’t take care of ourselves like we should.
It’s so easy for us to give to others that we end up neglecting our own mental and physical well-being and fall into routines that don’t serve us, and this can make it harder for us to deliver the best possible patient outcomes. We need to set a good example by taking care of ourselves.
Today’s episode is all about getting “unstuck” when it comes to taking care of our own health, why you don’t need to go to the Cleveland Clinic to get a clear picture of how your mind and body are doing, and how to set a work/life balance that will set you up for success both in the office and at home.
- Why we can’t be objective with our own health.
- Why it’s so important to be honest and held accountable when it comes to the struggles and challenges you face with diet, exercise, and illness.
- How to stop staring at emails and Facebook for hours each day and make the most productive use of your screen time.
- What you can do to create morning and evening routines that allow for real self-care.
TweetableAs practitioners, we love helping people, and that's a good thing. But it can also be a bad thing because when we help others, we often put the emphasis on them and we forget about ourselves. – Dr. Ronda Nelson Click To Tweet
- Full Focus Planner® – A planner by Michael Hyatt
- Headspace – my favorite meditation app
- Skimble – my best exercise buddy
- The Practitioner Hub with Ronda Nelson – our new Mighty Networks social platform
Connect with Dr. Ronda Nelson
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Dr. Ronda Nelson: Well, hello, my friend, and welcome to The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. I am so glad you’re here. Thanks for spending a little bit of time with me. The topic that we’ll be talking about today is one that all of us can relate to because we are, as a general rule, pretty good practitioners. We know what we’re doing and we’re always on the learning curve. Of course, there are always things you don’t know, right? We can feel confident that we know how to fix something and sometimes, we just learn how to fix it as we go. And that’s part of being a practitioner, right? But the thing that we don’t do well is take care of ourselves, and there are a number of reasons for that. The biggest one, I think, is that we can only have a subjective viewpoint. We can’t be objective about our own health. So, as healthcare practitioners in the alternative holistic functional space, we are looked at as knowing how to fix things, which we absolutely know how to do. But what we often don’t do is take very good care of or fix ourselves. And I think it just comes with the job.
Now, what do we do about that? Well, as I mentioned, we can’t be easily objective about our own health care. So, there are a few things that I want to talk to you about today that might help get you unstuck with your own health because if I were a betting woman, I would bet that there’s probably some things going on with your health that you may not be not telling the truth about. I have the same thing going on over here. Like maybe diet or exercise or self-care or work-life balance. We aren’t always honest about it, admitting that we could use a little help. And it’s okay to wave the white flag and say, “Hellooooo – I need some help over here because this isn’t working out for me.” What’s important to me, and I think it’s probably important to you too, is that we set a good example for the people that we’re leading, right? That only makes sense. We want to set that good example and the way that we do that is by taking care of ourselves.
So, number one, how do we take care of ourselves? The first thing I recommend is to find someone who can help you manage your own healthcare. Don’t try to do it on your own. Because when you try and figure it out yourself, you’re going to mess it up and here’s why. You’ve got a product or supplement line that you love using. I love using Standard Process and you might feel more comfortable using a different one. And that’s all good. But here’s the problem: you know so much that you think you need almost every single product! We all do it. We look through the catalog, we go online, and we think, oh yeah, I should definitely be taking this one and may be that one oh and there’s that other one that would be super helpful too. And then, because we don’t have the accountability, we’re either not consistent enough or it’s not quite the right combination because, again, we can’t be objective. We can only be subjective about our health. So, the best thing you can do to support your health is find someone who can help you with your own healthcare. And when you find that person, let them be the boss. This might not feel very good because we’re used to being the boss, right? But we need to let someone else be the boss. And you need to give them all the details – here’s what I eat every day, these are my sleeping habits, here’s how much water I’m drinking, here’s how much alcohol I’m drinking, this is the amount of sugar that I’m eating, etc… All the same stuff that we would ask or want to know about a patient.
So, number one, find someone who can help you. Find someone who knows more about it than you do. You don’t have to go to Cleveland Clinic or some big expensive place. Just find another practitioner that you know, like, and trust, and say, “Listen, I need you to manage my healthcare. I will do whatever you say.” That’s what I’ve done. I’ve got probably two, maybe three people that I trust and want to work with. And I let them be the boss. One of them sends me a message on Facebook and will actually ask me: “Who’s the boss?” And I have to say, “You’re the boss!” J He knows that I will want to branch out and try something new or think, “I’m not going to take that herb anymore. I’m going to try this one over here.” And I get in trouble when I do that! I don’t like it when patients do it so why would I do it? Well, I do it because I think, “Oh, I’m fine. I’ll just include one or two more supplements – it won’t matter.” Not a good idea.
So, number one, find someone that can help you with your own healthcare. Don’t do it yourself.
Number two, this probably should have been number one, but it’s number two in my list. Number two is to be honest. Just be really honest with yourself. It’s okay that you’re not awesome at taking care of yourself. It’s okay. There’s no judgment in this crowd because I get it. I’m right there with you. I often don’t have a good work-life balance or home balance and I don’t enjoy my life as much as I could/should because of work priorities and work stress. So, I have to be honest about that too. I have to be honest about where I’m struggling with my diet, where am I struggling in trying to get exercise in and so on. And some of you may be listening thinking, “What is wrong with her? How come she can’t just get out and exercise? She knows better.” Yeah, I do know better but I just don’t make it a priority. And that’s the truth. I just don’t make it a priority. We make time for what’s important to us and that’s why we need someone else to help direct us, to help keep our bus headed in the right direction.
Because left to my own devices, I would just be fat, dumb, and happy, feeling all sluggish and sitting on my butt all day, humped over my computer, if I didn’t have someone holding me accountable and asking the tough questions: “How many times did you exercise this week? Exactly what kind of exercise did you do? How long?” Because with that level of accountability, I don’t want to show up not having done what I promised. And I’m not going to lie. I refuse to say that I exercised three times when I didn’t. So, if I’m paying someone to hold me accountable, I got to be honest. And honest means admitting that if I’m a sugar-aholic, which I’m not, but if I was, I would have to be honest about that and say, “Yeah, I’m sneaking candy bars or I’m drinking Frappuccino’s and I go to a faraway Starbucks so no one ever sees me.” You’ve got to be just straight-up honest about the whole thing. So, that’s part of working with another practitioner. You need to become a patient, and an honest one at that.
Now, number three, I think where we really struggle and that is, as I mentioned, this balance between home and work. I’m pretty passionate about helping practitioners make sure that they have what I call a morning routine or an opening day routine, and then a closing day routine. And that’ll be a topic for another show. But just in brief overview, when you start your day, you need a predictable routine. I don’t know about you, but this is sometimes where I struggle and here’s why. I love what I do. I wake up every day and am so excited about helping practitioners be more successful, whether it’s clinically or in their businesses. Because truth be told, you need to have a solid business structure in order to have a successful clinic. But, I love what I do. So, what I used to do first thing in the morning is reach for my phone and start looking at emails. That’s a bad, bad idea – a really bad idea because it sets me up for a crazy day. My brain gets flooded with problems and issues that need my attention and before long, I’m stuck in the “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, what am I missing? What’s happening? Who’s doing what? I need to get back to that email” cycle and then I end up not being efficient. My brain is already caught up in the vicious cycle of going, doing, stress, etc… and I don’t like starting my day off that way.
So, I made myself a rule. I don’t look at my emails until I’ve had 30 minutes to plan my day and get a handle on what needs to happen for the day. If I need to prepare for patient appointments, I don’t look at my email until I’m done. I give myself about 30 minutes once I go in my home office and that’s my hard and fast rule. And I can tell you, it has alleviated so much stress for me because I can be mentally ready to look at my inbox. When I sit down and I say all right, I’m ready to open up Outlook. I don’t leave it open – I close it at the end of the night.
So, in the morning, what are the things you can do to start your day on a really great foot or a good note? Number one, don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Number two, don’t check Facebook. That is a black hole. You get in Facebook and you’re never coming out. Before you know it, two hours goes by. I am not a Facebook fan. I use it because I have to but not because I love it. So, Facebook is a big black hole. If you have to, do it at the end of the day before you go home because, again, Facebook will swallow you whole. Make sure that you have a good morning ritual set up so that you know exactly what you need to do to start your day, review your schedule, spend some time writing, etc. I have a planner that I absolutely love! I use the Full Focus Planner from Michael Hyatt. I couldn’t live without it. I use one planner per quarter so it allows me to really plan out the details for what I need to do that quarter, has a place for all my notes, important details, etc.. All of that goes in my planner.
At the end the day, I make sure that I’ve transferred over anything I didn’t accomplish during the day and I transfer over to the next so my mind can rest at night. I get to take a big breath and know that I’m ready to go for the next day. I close my planner, I close Outlook, I close Facebook. Nothing’s open on my computer that I’m going to be tempted to look at or get caught up in the next morning. So, when I get into my office the next morning, that’s usually the first place I look – in my planner. Do I need to look at any patient notes or files? Do I have any phone calls or meetings or Zoom meetings or a coaching appointment, whatever it might be?
I try to wrap things up at about 6:00 and I work from home. I don’t have kids at home. So, I have that ability to go a little longer in the day. But I try very hard to be done by 6:30. So, at 6:00’ish, I start to initiate healthy self-care by letting work be work and home be home. It’s a little bit of a challenge for me because I work from home. So, I’ve just recently started to close my office door at the end of the day because if I walk by in the hallway and I look in and think, “Oh, I’ll just jump in and I’ll just check that one email,” or, “Oh, there was that one person or email I forgot to respond to.” And if the door’s not closed, I will go in and do it. It’s made a big difference for me.
So, make sure that you’ve got a solid opening routine in the morning. And then you’ve got an end-of-the-day routine firmly established. Make sure that you have both of those bookends in place every single day and that will help you have that better work-life balance.
All right. Number four is factoring in what you do for fun. Now, that probably sounds like a really dumb question but it’s an important question for me because, honestly, between us girls, I don’t do fun things very often, simply because I love what I do. For me, I’ll sit down with a textbook, an endocrinology textbook, or a digestive textbook or something, and read it. Just because I really enjoy it. I’m fascinated by how the human body and brain work so this is enjoyable for me. I also listen to a lot of podcasts. So, my brain doesn’t have room for doing many fun things – I’m always learning something new!
But this past year, I’ve really made a concerted effort to try and do things that are going to help me, help my body and my brain be able to relax and put some of my focus and energy into something else that’s pleasurable and not work-related. I recently took up an old, I don’t want to say hobby, but I recently started taking voice lessons. I was a singer when I was younger, and then life gets in the way and there’s kids and family and work and career and school and college, blah, blah, blah. But I decided that that was something that I wanted to resurrect and get the old pipes tuned up again. So, I am taking voice lessons and I love it. That’s new for me in the last probably six to eight months. And I love it. I love, love, love it! So, that’s something important to me and something that I can really throw some emotion at and it’s a very healthy creative outlet for me.
So, what do you do? Are you a gardener? If so, unless you live in a Southern-California-kind-of-area, you may not be able to garden all year. But if you are a gardener, what do you love about it? I would love to know because I’m looking for other ways to be able to get a few more creative outlets going because I work so much. So, whatever that thing is, if you love to ski or you love to be on the water or you love to quilt or you love to work on cars or whatever it is, what is your thing that you do that allows you or gives you that kind of creative outlet? It is so important for our mental health. In fact, there are neural pathways that are built and developed when we learn a new skill. So, maybe you want to learn a new language. I’ve always wanted to learn how to speak French, and I’ve never made it a priority, kind of like exercise. I do it but it’s not a high priority for me. But learning a foreign language is one of the best things you can do to increase neural plasticity in the brain and singing is another one. I love to sing, and I would love to learn a foreign language. I just haven’t made the time for it.
So, what is the one thing that you can do to keep your brain healthy, improve your mental and emotional state, and allow you to have a weekend or an evening where you’re really doing something that feeds your soul? Because as practitioners, we love helping other people, and that’s a good thing. But it can also be a bad thing because we often put so much time and effort toward taking care of them that we forget about ourselves. And it’s time we turn that table around so we can start to take care of ourselves with the same attention, the same passion, the same intensity, the same focus, and the same commitment that we have when we’re working with a patient. Because if we’re not healthy – if you and I aren’t healthy, we can’t help our patients get well either. How well I am taking care of myself will be the benchmark for what I can ask my patient to do as well.
Out of our own personal experiences and struggles, we can legitimately say, “Hey, listen, I’ve been there when you don’t want to exercise, and you know you need to. I know how tough that is. Here are the things I did that made it easier for me.” Out of your own personal experience, you’ll be able to encourage them along their own journey. So, with that same amount of compassion and caring, we need to direct our attention, care, and focus on learning how to love ourselves a little bit better as it has to do with our health and wellbeing.
I’m sure some of you out there are thinking, “What is she talking about? I have everything under control.” Well, good for you! Because I sure don’t. J I love that you are doing the things that serve your own health and I definitely want to be more like you when I grow up. But if I were 100% honest, this is a place where I really struggle sometimes. And I know that if I didn’t have someone helping me with my own health and holding me accountable, I wouldn’t pay the same amount of attention to it. If I don’t set healthy boundaries at the beginning of day, the end of the day, or have a creative outlet, I’m out of balance. My work-life balance is askew. I want to set myself up to be as healthy as I can be for as long as I can and I also want to set a good example for the people I lead.
Because if I don’t, I feel out of integrity. And I don’t know about you, but I feel like sometimes I’m out of integrity – I’m not practicing what I preach – and I don’t like that. That doesn’t feel good to me. So, I want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to get myself along the same journey as the patient, but sometimes, I need a little help.
So, there you go, my friends. That’s it for today. I am committed to helping you however I can. And if I can help connect you with someone who can help you with your health care, shoot me an email and let me know where you live. I’ll do my best to find someone in your area. You can also head over to our new social platform, hosted on Mighty Networks instead of Facebook! Woohoo! I would highly recommend that you jump into that platform. It’s a great group of practitioners who are networking together and connecting up in their local areas so they can connect with each other face-to-face.
In the show notes, you’ll find the link to our Mighty Network group (The Practitioner Hub with Ronda Nelson) where you can request to join. Just let me know that you heard about it on the podcast so that I know you’re a good guy, not a bad guy. J We have a little bit of a process to go through because I really want to keep the integrity of that community intact. We want to welcome practitioners who are passionate and focused on helping their patients. So, I’ll put that link in the show notes for you. And I’ll also share a few of my favorite apps and what not that have helped me execute my self-care routine. I’ll also add the link for Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner, so you can check that out if you’d like.
But anyway, that’s it for today my friend. Thanks so much for joining me and I’ll see you back here on The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. All you have to do is hit the subscribe button wherever you listen to this podcast. And I’d love it if you would leave a review! We will be releasing a new episode every Tuesday so stay tuned!
Take care, my friend. Thanks for hanging out with me. And it’s time that you and I not only take care of ourselves, but we’re going to learn how to grow your business like a boss. See ya!