You can’t help your patients if you don’t take care of yourself
I KNOW YOU WERE INSPIRED TO BE A HEALING INFLUENCER. What we do requires a lot of energy. There is nothing mystical about energy. We are born with an innate, although often repressed, ability to use it. Take a moment to think about the issue(s) immediately obstructing the quality of your life? Is it physical or emotional tightness, numbness, an old wound or painful place within?
My message in a bottle
At a certain age or time in your life, you will want to suppress neural activity that generates stress, anxiety, irritability and defensive posturing. You will want to enhance family relations, social connections, physical and mental relaxation, memory and cognition.
It took a while for me to create a practice not based on performance, competition or achievement but accepting, experiencing, connecting and sharing. I need self-care to be Dr. Jeffrey Tucker and just Jeff. I frequently practice noticing and nurturing the quieter forms of joy, such as presence, health, connection, belonging, peace, ease and well-being. It took me too long to figure out that part of self-care is what I and my loved ones experience together, and not necessarily what is produced.
As we walk this pathway of being health care providers, engaging the study of holistic care, we cross the broad terrain of the personality, ego and soul. We see more clearly who we are and how we’re connected to the greater whole. First, nourish our self-relationship. Move past obstacles. Emphasize creating healthy relationships within healthy lives.
What your patients see
As a doctor, you know people are watching you! It’s important to maintain good aesthetics and posture because poor posture can lead to premature fatigue or muscle burnout. The therapy and adjusting we do is hard work and I’ve seen many chiropractors suffer joint wear and tear, especially in the low back, shoulders and hands. This caused early disability and even early retirement for some friends. Don’t be afraid to buy equipment now to make work easier for you and create more fun.
Regarding aesthetics, use modern medicine and technology if you want to look younger: Fix or whiten your teeth, get a hearing aid, do hair therapy, even try cosmetics for your face. Spend the money to feel good.
Each of you has a unique perspective on personal finance and life planning. Don’t wait to emphasize the importance of optimizing experiences and creating memories for loved ones, friends and patients. Don’t be afraid to use your time and money resources now instead of in later phases of life. Self-care starts with feeling compensated for your time and efforts in the office. Don’t think twice about taking vacations now too.
Prioritize sleep. Make sure to get enough restful sleep each night. I aim for 7-9 hours of sleep, as it plays a crucial role in overall health and cognitive function. Spend money on a good bed and create a comfortable sleep environment. My best sleep hack is trying to eat at least three hours before bedtime.
Get regular exercise. Help yourself and every patient find an exercise routine. I’m lucky because I find exercise enjoyable, but many people don’t. Whether it’s going to the gym, practicing yoga, dancing or simply taking a daily walk, incorporate some vestibular work for balance and fall risk prevention; think of ways to do something for Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s disease prevention. Think about pelvic floor weakness so you don’t wind up in diapers and then a nursing home because no one wants to change your diapers. Consistency of movement is key.
Eat healthy nutrition. Focus on consuming a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Limit processed and sugary foods, as they can negatively impact your energy levels and mood. If you don’t know what to recommend, fall back to the Mediterranean Diet.
Practice mindfulness and relaxation. I know it is a challenge to create a daily routine of meditation, deep breathing exercises or mindfulness-based activities like yoga. The simplest thing I do is remind patients to nasal breathe and teach them how to diaphragm breathe. These practices can help reduce stress and anxiety while improving your ability to stay present and focused.
Set boundaries and learn to say no. It’s essential to set boundaries in your personal and professional life. Learn to say no when you feel overwhelmed or need time for yourself. Prioritize activities and commitments that align with your values and bring you joy.
Share what you know
We all signed up for lifelong learning, so be willing to share information you are studying or learning with other practitioners.
I have all kinds of incredible technology in my office, but never made time for me to use it. So at home, I have duplicated a home office gym where I can do “sensory stacking.” I combine visual, tactile and auditory stimulation during my morning routine and workouts.
If I’m having coffee, reading and writing, I regularly apply a low level light therapy (LLLT) red light laser somewhere on my body for the mitochondrial boost. During my workouts, some things I do daily include incorporating wobble boards, whole body vibration (VibraGenix) with resonance frequency, blood flow restriction (BFR) bands, wrist/ankle weights, electric stim, music, clap, brain entrainment devices, and I’m probably listening to a webinar on the latest thing I’m curious about.
If you can’t walk barefoot on the beach like I can whenever I want, I recommend using virtual reality that can place you in a forest or guide you on a tour around some other beach. The shoes I spend most of my time in have minimalist soles.
Keep old injuries in check. For example, I have my chiropractic assistant give me five minutes of deep muscle stimulation to help keep my fascia pliable and hydrated as many days a week as we can. I’ve learned that five minutes can make a difference.
How many of these self-care tips can you put a check by?
- Hydration (and being fluid)
- Connection with family, friends
- Gratitude moments
- Something for personal growth
- Saying hi to your inner child
- Breath work
- Mitochondrial health
- Soft tissue work
- Daily exercise
- Challenging yourself to build muscle
- Proper body composition (fat, muscle)
- Brain training
- Nutritional support
- Tracking health (Oura ring, Apple Watch, etc.)
- Trying to lead by example for patients who are looking for a healthier and happier life
Remember, self-care is not selfish; it’s necessary to take care of yourself to be able to take care of others and perform at your best in all aspects of life.
JEFFREY TUCKER, DC, DACRB, is in private practice in West Los Angeles, Calif. His website is DrJeffreyTucker.com.