On the Brink of Burnout: 6 Quick Ways to Practice Self Care

practice self care

No matter how many times I encourage my VIP clients to put their needs and wants at the top of the list, it’s a struggle for them. They’re doctors, surgeons, busy parents, wives, and they’re used to taking care of everyone else. They rarely put themselves first, and usually push themselves to the brink of burnout. Self care falls to the bottom of the list.

Can you relate?

Here’s the deal: if you’re not at the top of your game, guess what? You won’t do anyone else any good. So yes, it’s true: you really DO need to put your oxygen mask on first.

What I hear most from my clients when I ask about this trigger is, “I don’t want to be selfish.” It turns out that true selfishness is way different than making sure your needs are met before taking care of others.

Selfishness rears its ugly head when you jump ahead in the grocery line, with your full cart in tow, ignoring the little old lady who has three items right behind you.

Or when you tell your partner that it’s your turn to have a night out without the children, even though he asked about that basketball game with the guys months ago.

Or when you tell your Aunt Ruth you don’t have time to talk about her knitting project, when you could give her a call on your way home from the office to lend support.

Putting our own needs front and center is like having the best foundation ever holding up a skyscraper. When we consider our needs first, then our work, our health and our relationships all improve and build from there, in a sturdy balanced way.

This concept can start with some really basic self-care.

6 Quick Ways to Practice Self Care Today:

1) Eat a good breakfast before you leave the house.

2) Make sure you are hydrated throughout the day.

3) Allow time for some movement, whether it’s a brisk walk, yoga class, or a run.

4) Take those 10 minutes to meditate in the morning instead of logging on to check social media.

5) Tell your office when you need to start late or leave early, to allow for medical or dental check-ups (You don’t want your dog to get their teeth cleaned more often than you do, am I right?!).

6) Ask for what you need from your family. Kids can help pick up their toys; partners can unload the dishwasher or bring home healthy take-out for dinner; families can agree that “me-time” is sacred when the groundwork is carefully in place.

Learning how to set boundaries was a true game-changer for me. It can start with little things and expand into such clarity that you’ll never look back.

When you say “I don’t” rather than “I can’t” to a request, you honor yourself. (1)

One of the phrases I teach my VIP clients is: “I don’t” . . .  rather than “I can’t.”

As in, “I don’t stay late on Thursdays because my son has baseball practice.” Or “I don’t bring in treats for the class more than once a quarter because I want to share the load.”


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When you say “I don’t” rather than “I can’t” to a request, you honor yourself.


I’d love you to share your best tips on putting yourself first. Or tell us your struggles with why you can’t seem to make it happen. The give-and-take of moving forward to a happier life is what we’re all about.

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5 thoughts on “On the Brink of Burnout: 6 Quick Ways to Practice Self Care

    1. Starla Fitch, M.D. Post author

      Thanks, Kim! Especially at this busy holiday time, it is easy to put ourselves at the end of a long, long list. My recent VIP Weekend Client, a busy cardiologist, had this exact problem. Every day. When she finally came up for air and scheduled the time for a VIP Weekend to put her self, her needs, and her priorities first and really focus on what she wanted, guess what happened? As she wrote, “It was transformational.” My holiday wish is that we all come up for air and take the time to find our joy. Blessings to you.

      Reply
  1. Dara Lifschutz

    This is so true…first thing I will do is use the word ‘don’t’ and not ‘can’t.’

    “I don’t compromise patient safety by seeing patients for 11 hours straight without a break.”

    I do run the risk of getting fired with cause, but it’s a risk worth taking.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: It’s Not Them, It’s YOU: 3 Ways to Teach People How to Treat You - Starla Fitch MD

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