Ways to Prioritize Self-Care and Find Inner Peace
You deserve a peaceful pause. You are deserving of a refreshing breath. You deserve the time to pause, find tranquility, and rejuvenate. Morgan Harper Nichols
“It’s refreshing to see you without your usual array of gadgets,” my cardiologist joked. I nodded as I thought back to a year ago, when I was in the ICU and occupied with my work while also having a heart attack. Even as the doctors were attaching wires and monitors to me, I couldn’t tear myself away from my laptop. I thought that if I paused to prioritize my own well-being, everything would crumble.
After two years of dedication and effort, I had transformed into a completely different individual from the one who had been stuck in the ICU, unable to detach from work.
My doctor happily declared that your EKG appears to be in excellent condition. “You are exceptional!”
“I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it,” he urged, after informing me that my blood pressure had returned to its baseline, which is lower than typical for me. In addition, I was able to stop taking several of the medications he had prescribed following my heart attack.
I encountered him in the emergency room of the local hospital, and fortunately, he quickly realized that, despite my lack of chest pain and atypical symptoms, I was experiencing a heart attack. Only four weeks prior, I had received approval from another cardiologist, so the thought of a heart attack hadn’t even occurred to me.
However, it turned out that my left major artery was 90% blocked. A stent was inserted, and I faithfully attended all my follow-up appointments, even bringing my laptops and phones with me as I struggled to detach myself.
Being a woman, especially a woman of color, made me feel like I had to shoulder the weight of the entire world. I had to demonstrate my worth. I was determined to demonstrate my unwavering commitment, regardless of any personal challenges I faced. I was constantly on the move, always seeking new challenges and pushing myself. I never thought I could simply relax, unwind, and make time for myself.
However, through perseverance and dedication, I gradually acquired the skills to look after myself. I decided to leave behind my corporate career, along with the exhausting seventy-eight-mile commute. It became clear to me that I needed to reprioritize my life. Today, I reflect on the woman holding her laptops in the ICU, and I am grateful that I have moved past the mindset of thinking I couldn’t prioritize self-care.
These are the valuable insights I gained during my recovery. If you, too, are looking to discover ways to prioritize self-care and embrace a more relaxed pace, I hope these valuable lessons can assist you on your personal journey.
I understand that getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep is often overlooked, despite being one of the most timeless pieces of self-care advice. How often have you dismissed that advice, believing it only applies to others and not to yourself?
I used to proudly boast about my ability to function on just four or five hours of sleep each night. However, I soon realized that this lifestyle was taking a toll on my body, despite my apparent success in managing it. Getting enough sleep is essential.
The NIH states that quality sleep has positive effects on brain performance, mood, and overall health. Insufficient and inconsistent sleep can significantly increase the likelihood of developing various diseases and disorders. These encompass a wide range of health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, obesity, and dementia. (NIH, April, 2021).
Take care of yourself
The three laptops and two phones I brought to the ICU are evidence that it has taken me a while to get to a place where I can prioritize myself guilt-free. However, I have come to understand the importance of setting aside intentional time for self-care, as it allows me to recharge and rejuvenate. There’s no need to feel guilty about that.
Occasionally, I find comfort in indulging in a homemade face mask or unwinding with a soothing bath and flickering candles. Occasionally, I treat myself to a luxurious spa day. Striving to operate without sufficient energy is not beneficial for anyone. It not only leads to burnout for me but also prevents me from performing at my best and fulfilling my responsibilities when I am tired and depleted.
I don’t have any plans to participate in marathons, but I am committed to walking every day. Ensuring that I’m staying active is a simple yet powerful way to prioritize my fitness. I can walk anywhere without the need for any specific equipment.
Studies indicate that incorporating brief periods of walking into daily routines, such as opting for the stairs or parking farther away, can have a positive impact. Making a difference in your health doesn’t require a complicated, time-intensive, or expensive exercise routine. Simply take one step at a time.
Enjoyment is the purpose of life. Exploring unfamiliar territory can shift your outlook. Whether it’s organizing a vacation to a nation I’ve always wanted to see or deciding to enjoy an audiobook while taking a leisurely drive through the countryside rather than battling the turnpike, venturing a bit beyond the norm helps me appreciate life more. Up next: I’m considering enrolling in a cooking class to explore new culinary horizons.
Spending quality time with loved ones
A vital component of my wellbeing is spending time with my family, whether it’s organizing a date night with my 28-year-old spouse or a day spent with my dad or daughter. When my mom passed away in June of 2022, it was a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of life. Maximizing the time I spend with my family brings immense significance and fulfillment to my life.
Exploring the art of meditation
I had been aware of the advantages of meditation for quite some time and had made a few attempts at it, albeit without much enthusiasm. However, following my heart attack, I realized the importance of finding a method to clear my thoughts and achieve a sense of calmness. I decided to give meditation another try, and surprisingly, it actually worked this time. Now, daily meditation has become an essential part of my routine, and I am finally experiencing the positive effects that others have been raving about for years, such as improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and lower blood pressure.
If you ever find yourself burdened by the pressures of life, feeling as though the slightest pause could lead to everything falling apart, I want you to know that those thoughts are unfounded. It is important to prioritize self-care and make time for yourself.
Take heed of my experiences so you don’t find yourself attempting to conquer your tasks while confined to the ICU.
“Your MASTERY OF LIFE begins the moment you break through your prisons of self-created limitations and enter the inner worlds where creation begins.”Dr. Jonathan Parker
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