I remember hearing the saying “If I rest, I rust” and both laughing at it, and kind of liking it.
About 20 years later, here I am, trying to find a way to both REST and NOT RUST! I am a physician practicing Psychiatry and I specialize in Women’s Mental Health. My work revolves around helping people through some of the most difficult times of their life. I am honored and grateful to walk alongside my patients helping guide them through the obstacles they face.
When I am not seeing patients, I am working on a product I developed after having my daughter, Ariadna, in 2014. After maternity leave, I returned to work and had a steep decline in breast milk production. Because I produced so little milk, I was very protective over each priceless drop. When my daughter would sip from the bottle, I knew her saliva was unnecessarily contaminating the breast milk. I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a way to simply block that added bacteria from being mixed into the precious liquid-gold breast milk! That is when the idea for aLoo (my daughter’s nickname) was born. I invented a device that blocks 99.6% of baby’s backwash from contaminating their bottle, thereby reducing the overall bacterial content of the breast milk.
With my two “day jobs”, and my evenings being dedicated time for my husband and daughter, there are many times where I feel like I am beginning to fray. I might feel more impatient with my staff, or short with my husband. I will find myself trying to control things outside of my control.
When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I lean on these five simple, yet critical, points that re-center me.
I cannot stress this enough. I believe sleep should be respected as much as exercise. If we make time to work out, we must make time to sleep. It regulates our mood, clears our mind, rests our body and decreases our stress hormones. We have more self-control and focus when we are well rested. I absolutely need eight hours of sleep and will not compromise this necessity. I REST, and I have not yet RUSTED!
I think back to when I was younger and “hangry”. My poor parents! Who am I kidding, though? I was probably hangry yesterday. It’s hard to be self-aware 100% of the time and we all have blind spots for ourselves. Mine is focusing on tasks and not always making time to eat. I have made an effort to prioritize food and snacking throughout the day. I just discovered Janet Anthony’s blog post on food and productivity. It’s a must read.
Being a parent can be socially isolating, and working full time can leave you too drained to socialize even when you have an opportunity to do so. I find that when I am isolated, I start to focus too much on myself and my perceived weaknesses. That is not the best use of my time. Sure, it is very important to focus on our weaknesses and grow from them, but I think designating a time for that is more effective. When I am around friends or family, I can talk about issues I am facing and work through them with their support. I can also laugh and joke about my weaknesses, and also provide support to others, which helps me feel useful and valued.
Having a few friends that you can depend on, who are respectful of your time, and value you is a gift. Make time for them. It doesn’t have to be a fancy outing or an event. I just have a friend come over on Sunday afternoons. That is something I look forward to and is a great way to start facing the work week. And if I didn’t get a work out in that day, that’s okay. The laughing was an ab workout in itself!
I have started doing 10-15 minutes of yoga before bed. I put on a YouTube relaxation music channel, turn the lights off and stretch, breathe and hold poses. I feel like my body is stronger, more toned, and my mind is clear. I never imagined I would look forward to exercise, but now I understand what people mean when they say they feel “off” when they don’t work out. I sleep SO much better because of that brief yoga session. My lower back is loose, my neck feels light, and my legs feel ready to be still. Off to bed I go, with my body and mind feeling light as a feather.
Okay, I know. Touchy feely psychiatrist saying “just hug people” and you will feel better. That’s not exactly what I am saying. Hug your spouse, your children, your friends. Hugs lower blood pressure. Hugs reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. Hugs increase the release of the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, which enhances the bonds we feel with others. Okay, maybe I am saying “just hug people.” It works!
I hope you find some ways to rest. Take it from me… you won’t rust.