Dr. Tamika’s Self-Care Prescription

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Dr. Tamika’s Self-Care Prescription

Do you ever wish there were more hours in the day? I get it. 

As a wife, mother and doctor it is hard to fit everything in, especially time for yourself. It can become easy to put self-care at the bottom of the list and let those practices slide during busy weeks and when life throws a curveball. 

Many of my patients come to me feeling overwhelmed, anxious or exhausted. They feel like life is happening to them instead of having the time and space to create what they desire. This can be especially true for women who are caregivers and are used to putting everyone’s needs before their own. Over time, a lack of self-care can lead to burnout, decrease your ability to be resilient in the face of stress and even contribute to disease. 

That’s why, as a doctor, I prescribe self-care to my patients and to myself as well!  Self-care is foundational. It’s about putting practices in place to support your wellbeing and being proactive with your health. For example, it’s really hard to start meditating during an incredibly stressful time, but if you already have a meditation practice in place, you can access the breathing and meditative state when you need it most. 

I’m not asking you to be perfect because the truth is that perfectionism isn’t good self-care at all. Instead, I suggest taking small steps toward reclaiming your health. It’s okay to take it slow and put one piece in place at a time. In fact, that’s the best way to build lasting lifestyle change. Self-care is important in several areas including food, supplements, exercise, sleep and mindset. 

Let’s dive in to some approachable action steps that can make a big impact in your life! 

Food

I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all diet and have found that different approaches – Mediterranean, paleo, keto – work well for different people. However, when it comes to choosing food from day-to-day, there are a couple foundational components that I’ve found incredibly supportive for everyone. These include:

  • Choose real food. By real food I mean food that is in its most whole, unprocessed state. The more you choose whole foods instead of processed, packaged options, the more you show care for your body by providing complete nutrition. While you are at it, choose the highest quality foods that you can find and afford. This might mean getting organic produce from a farmer’s market or choosing grass-fed beef. A good place to start is by spending a little more time in the kitchen. Try to cook one more meal at home each week. 
  • Eat your veggies. 5-9 serving of produce each day has been shown over and over again in research to decrease the risk for developing chronic disease while contributing to healthy aging. Start with adding just one serving per day to what you already eat. A serving is typically about ½ cup cooked vegetable, 1 cup raw veggie or one medium sized piece of fruit. 

Supplements

Like diet, I believe in a personalized approach to supplements. Afterall, we all have unique biochemistry, genetics and health concerns. However, in today’s world because of a less nutrient dense food supply combined with an increased exposure to toxins there are a few supplements that I widely recommend for everyone. A minute in the morning to get some extra nutrients in is an easy, and incredibly nourishing, self-care practice. I recommend:

  • A high quality multivitamin. The specific product will depend on your sex and stage of life, but I prefer multis that have the active forms of the nutrients. For example, look for the active methylfolate instead of the synthetic folic acid. Brands that make good multis include Pure Encapsulations, Seeking Health and Thorne Research. 
  • A high quality probiotic. Toxins, stress and even some medications negatively impact the microbiome in the gut and most of us benefit from a probiotic in order to replenish these beneficial bacteria regularly. Look for a dairy-free product from a reputable source such as Klaire Labs or Metagenics. 

Exercise

Since many of us spend a lot of time sitting for work, commuting and even recreation, I’m always talking with patients about simple ways to move more. Certainly this could mean adding in a yoga class or hike to your week, yet simply building in more movement throughout the day is important as well. Here are some suggestions:

  • Start your day with dance. Pick one or two songs and just move your body to wake up and get the blood flowing.
  • Break up sitting by getting up to walk or stretch for 3-5 minutes every hour. 
  • Park farther from your destination and walk. 
  • Always take the stairs. 
  • Stand or walk during phone calls. 

Sleep

While self-care might sometimes feel like adding more things to your do list, there is a lot to be gained from going back to the basics, including prioritizing sleep. Sleep is where the body is able to rejuvenate, repair and detoxify. It also supports hormone balance and a healthy circadian rhythm. If you have a specific sleep issue, such as insomnia, I can help support you in uncovering and treating the root cause. For many of us, some simple bedtime strategies can improve sleep. I recommend: 

  • Setting a regular bedtime.
  • Limiting screens before bed. If you really need to use a screen, try wearing blue light blocking glasses after dark. 
  • Practice relaxation before bed. This could include taking a bath, drinking herbal tea, reading, journaling, stretching or meditation.

Mindset

Adopting a positive mindset when it comes to self-care is one of the best ways to care for ourselves. It brings us out of a drive for perfectionism and the need to do everything. Instead, our mindset can allow us to put these simple practices into place in our lives from a place of self-compassion and self-love. By seeing the value in ourselves and working to meet our own needs, self-care becomes a priority and a non-negotiable in our daily schedules. Afterall, we are more able to handle everything on our plates when our tank is full. 

The time of running on empty is over and I wholeheartedly give you permission to stop being reactive about your health and instead become proactive about self-care and your wellbeing. Remember that self-care is about you, your needs and what works best for your life.

I hope you’ll take some of these suggestions and then create your own version of self-care. The focus is you and you are unlimited!

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