“People want to take stock in their relationships and careers. But they also want to take stock in their own wellbeing. Some of that is emotional and mental. And some of that is physical but it’s very porous among those different categories. Because they do affect each other,” said Dr. Shoma Dhar, Primary Care Physician and Health Coach.
Are we finally emerging from the ‘just power through’ era? Pre-Covid, it was common to perform through illness, distress, or exhaustion. Shoma said, “I work with a lot of people who are in very high-pressure jobs. Where it’s easy for them not to question the unrealistic or unhealthy assumptions and demands that are being placed on them. But the blinders are being lifted.” The pandemic has given new meaning to health. Yet we’re busier and face even more disruption to our schedules. So, how do you reset the old rules. And begin to reclaim space for your wellbeing?
Embrace Your Full Reset
The return to offices and social activities can feel wonderfully normal. But few people want to resume life at pre-Covid speed. Trying to sustain the relentless pace was always unhealthy. Shoma said, “It’s been such a huge reset button for so many people. And in many ways, it’s forced them to pause and re-evaluate.” You can fiercely protect your wellbeing. And it’s okay to reexamine your priorities and needs.
Honor What’s Changed
“Many people want to reflect on what has happened and choose how they want to react to it,” Shoma said. But there’s not much space, unless you make it. She added, “It’s an uncomfortable tension between wanting to move forward. And honoring that something major has changed life in every way.” Most of us want to hold onto what was good about the before-times. Yet, live healthier post-pandemic lifestyles.
Take the Space and Time Off That You Need
The FMLA isn’t only for parental leave. You can take time off to care for yourself. Many are reluctant to consider a leave of absence, because in the US, they’re are often unpaid. But Shoma has seen positive experiences among her patients and clients.“Many people come in and say, ‘my company is being supportive.’ On one hand, it’s striking how many people are needing to take time off from work. But I’ve been really struck by how respectfully big companies seem to be approaching the conversation. Hopefully it’s a silver lining we can take with us from this experience.” Many employers offer better flexibility and post-leave onramps now. Whether it’s through a formal leave or not, you can start to bring your stress levels down.
Quiet the Internal Criticism
Mental and physical health are intertwined. Shoma said, “The idea that mental health is as important as physical health. And that there is such a strong connection, has taken root during this pandemic.” So she encourages us to pay attention to the stories we tell ourselves.
“Put how you feel into context. Think of the plates that you’re trying to keep in the air all at once. While also trying to move forward, this is hard!” Yes. She added, “And in many situations, we apply this overlay of, ‘what’s wrong with me? I should be able to do this’ to how we feel. So, start breaking that down immediately and find the self-compassion.”
And Acknowledge How Much You Really Do
We’re socialized to keep going. Not to reflect. So, Shoma helps people through guided visualizations ‘see’ where the feelings of stress come from. She said, “I like the exercise where you write your own job description. And imagine the things that you do every single day, whatever that is. Yes, it could be yelling at your kids to get to breakfast! Just imagine all of the responsibilities that you have and think about how overwhelming it is. The next thing I often encourage people do to do, is to start getting in touch with their physical self.” When we’re overwhelmed many of us focus on, okay obsesses about, what we’re thinking. Instead of how we’re physically feeling.
Reconnect To Your Senses
Shoma helps people tune back into what their bodies are trying to tell them. “I usually teach the kind of mindfulness where you recognize what it is you’re seeing, hearing and any tactile sensations you feel. In an effort to ground yourself in the present moment.” Sometimes we need reminders about how to do presence.
She explained, “If you’re feeling overwhelmed and your mind is trying to race around in all these different directions. What can you do to focus on the here and now?” It’s challenging so, she encourages people to stay curious about their feelings.
Yes, That Includes Breathing
“We tend to look for patterns and ascribe meaning to a lot of different things. It’s how we’ve survived as a as a species! But sometimes, we do it too much and it’s to our detriment. So, slowing down to recognize what it is that you’re feeling, can help,” Shusmita said.
She also recommends using the act of breathing, to stay in the moment. “Notice how this feeling of overwhelm or of being at the breaking point, is experienced in your body. And then isolate those feelings as symptoms. Take a breath, before you get swept away by the emotions. And in the space of that breath, a lot of things could happen. You could end up getting swept away by the emotion anyway. Or you could find a moment of peace.” Beautiful.
And Give Yourself the Gift of Time
“It helps to give yourself a little bit of space to evaluate. So, that you can find more helpful or self-compassionate ways to deal with that moment. But the first step is creating that space,” Shoma said. We often spend decades trying to outrun the to-do list. It’s as if we believe that somehow, some day soon, ‘all of the work’ will be done.
But there is no finish-line filled with a month’s worth of sleep. We have to find the peace inside of real-life. Whether it’s taking a leave of absence, mental health day or a few deep breaths, that’s where the meaning-making lies. So, go on, give yourself permission to take the space!
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Many thanks to the talented Dr. Shoma Dhar!
You can follow Shoma’s great adventures on her website.
Dr. Shoma Dhar, M.D.
Dr. Shoma Dhar is a personal life coach and primary care physician. Shoma’s goal is to help patients establish healthy lifestyles and habits they can sustain to prevent disease. When illnesses do arise, she strives to treat them in a thoughtful and minimalist way. She’s especially passionate about working with patients on stress management and mental health as well as helping adolescents and young adults address their unique health needs. To stay healthy, Shoma gets regular exercise by jogging, hiking in the woods, and taking leisurely strolls with her dog. In her free time, she enjoys reading/writing fiction and spending time with her family. She’s also an active volunteer at her children’s school. Shoma earned her medical degree from Brown University School of Medicine and completed her medicine/pediatrics residency at the Harvard Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program. She’s board-certified in internal medicine, pediatrics, and lifestyle medicine.
Tags: health management, Manage Stress For Moms, mental health for moms, mental wellbeing for Moms, Moms Self care