As I write this column, I’m sick at home. It is a rare day that I don’t push through and go to work, but as I continued to chill and sweat through the night, I knew I had to cancel my clinic day and just stay in bed. 

This doesn’t sound newsworthy but hear me out. Last week was extremely busy.  My clinic was fully booked except for one day where I flew to an out of town meeting and got home at 11 p.m.  I had extensive writing to do in the evenings and had three nights of less than 5 hours of sleep. I did my best to drink water, take immune-boosting vitamins, and get sleep after my flight. When I started to feel muscle aches, I quickly added a hot bath and broth, but it was too late. So, I’m home and being patient and quiet to let my body heal.  

I have recently had multiple people gently remind me of the need for self-care – turning my usual message to others, back towards me. And yesterday, my sister said a counselor once told her, “I never get sick unless I want to. It’s just the best to cuddle up and have no expectations of you.” That statement sounded absurd at first. After all, I am a scientist and I can tell you all about the germ theory and how to prevent illness. And besides, being sick feels horrible. But there is a grain of truth there. I really needed these two days of no expectations and rest. I realized that maybe it took being “sick” in order to give myself permission to fully stop and shut everything else out.

I usually have a “mind-over-matter” approach to being sick and just do not ever entertain the thought that I might get sick. I am around sick people a lot, but I do believe that our focus has a huge impact on what comes to be in our lives. So, I just never focus on my body being anything other than resilient and wise. But this week, I neglected my own core need for sleep and down time; consequently, my mental focus alone did not keep me well. 

It’s a gentle reminder to me, and I hope you can learn from my lesson. Your own oxygen mask must be priority number one. This is hard for all of us during busy times. Part of my change is about more delegation and valuing where I expend my time. I need to realize that my expectations are high for what I can accomplish, but I also need to raise my boundaries about how many and how quickly I can complete extra projects. 

My wise doctor handed me a prescription – it lists 8 hours of sleep a night, three baths a week and a creative project just for fun…I’m on the mend. But I’m taking my doctor’s orders to make some new habits. I hope you will, too!

Jeralyn Brossfield, MD, is the founder and physician of XO Health in Rancho Mirage and medical director of Brain Health Restoration also in Rancho Mirage. She can be reached at (760) 573.2761 or www.brainhealthrestoration.com

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