Nearly every self help book, every page of a women’s magazine, and even every nutrition plan espouses the following advice: make time for yourself. Make time to rest, to exercise, to cook healthy food, to quiet our harried minds. It seems like the most obvious tip, so why after all this time to we still need to be repeatedly told to do it? We feel guilty. We feel it’s too selfish. And we feel like we can wait. We’ll take care of everyone and everything else – we’ll get to us tomorrow. Feel like you’ve been waiting for tomorrow for far too long? And we’ll keep waiting until we make ourselves a priority. No one can – and no one should have to – take care of us the way we can take care of ourselves. When my boyfriend has to remind me to pack almonds on in my purse for a road trip, I’m shocked that as a grown woman (and nutrition expert) I need someone to remind me that I get low blood sugar…honestly Brooke. (Although I’m certain he reminds me out of self preservation – to save himself from the wrath of the Low Blood Sugar Brooke who’s not so easy to be around…Ok, perhaps part of it is that he loves me.) But how is it that as an adult I can overlook such basic elements of my self-care? I mean eating, how fundamental to my well being is that? How can I not know myself or forget myself this way? What’s my problem? I come up empty handed as I try to answer these questions. And I feel guilty that I have not mastered the fundamental tenant of being a well balanced, healthy woman: self care. And it’s not just snacks that we miss, who hasn’t been here: tired, hairy legs, chipped manicure and struggling to remember the last moment that was just for us? Despite all I know, from time to time I simply go on autopilot and totally neglect myself. My patients, my relationships, my deadlines, all get attention – and I get the backseat. I espouse the advice that “you can’t take care of anyone else well, unless you take care of yourself first”, but I don’t always heed it. How many times do we have to be told? Every woman has practiced this and found the results are always worth it. When we fill ourselves up with good food, good exercise and good thoughts it spills over and we can give much more good back. So why do we need to be told again? I’m not sure I have the answer to why this practice doesn’t stick. I know I still need to be reminded almost daily to take care of myself first if I have any hopes of taking care of everything else – but I do know feeling guilty about needing the reminder doesn’t help. When we feel bad we can’t take care of ourselves, its almost like on some level we feel we don’t deserve it. Think of times when you’ve felt your worst – a break up, losing a job – how do you care for yourself? Do you go on The Break Up Diet and fail to feed yourself, dropping self care all together? Or do you call your new friends Ben and Jerry, overindulging because hey, you deserve it? Either way, we end up feeling badly, unnourished and un-cared for. During these situations I shut down all together. I can’t sleep and I can’t eat. I think this may circle back to my “I’m not good enough story” as I complete fail to care for myself when things go downhil. Things like breakups or other big losses are the extremes of feeling bad, but they can show us our default during our daily, less traumatic lapses. As for my daily lapses in self care, just like all of you, I am still learning to make myself a priority. It us getting better though. I’m spending the week in Denver with my brother’s family and my boyfriend. We are in a 1 bedroom condo and although we’re having a great time, there’s a lot going on and no space to be alone. I’ve done my best – and it’s triumph over my past. I am shutting myself in the bedroom for at least an hour to write, I’ve made it to the gym and probably the most desperate attempt at self care was doing yoga in the tiny space between the bed and the dresser. As a result I’m nicer and have more energy – and I’m not wasting time with family being cranky and stressed because I didn’t take care of myself. I wish I had a nifty 3 step process to teach you, one that ensured you continually care for yourself – I don’t. I can say though, just do it. And keep doing it. Much like cultivating gratitude or inspiration, self care will perpetuate more self care. Take good care of yourself today, you deserve it.