By Dr. Judith Joseph M.D., M.B.A. – Board Certified Psychiatrist
When we think about what Self care we think about it as a luxury because we think that it only involves stress relief activities like spas, gyms, retreats, meditation and therapy. However, basic self care means that you are meeting your basic needs as a human being. You need to take care of your basic needs first if you want your luxury stress relief activities to be effective.
For those New to Self-Care where should they start?
Self-care is essentially a term that describes conscious steps that a person takes in order to promote their own physical, mental, social and emotional health so when I think about Self Care I like to use the term that I coined The 5 V’s to thriving.
The First V is Vision (what are your large or small goals and as humans we need goals to keep us moving forward or we will be stuck in the past)
Second V is Values-what gives us meaning in life we all need to have a sense of purpose,
Third V is Venting- how healthy is our social connectedness and communication with others?
Fourth V is Vitals (are we meeting the basic bodily needs such as sleep, nutrition and movement)
Fifth V is Validation (are we making room for acknowledging our pain, that we have mental health issues that we have feelings?)
I will get in to each of these items throughout this talk because if you are at least maintaining one of these 5 Vs you are already implementing self care. If we can validate that this is huge in our health care journey.
How to maintain self-care habits:
Self care has to be manageable and for my executives that I work with who are new to self care, I help them to come up with a basic initial self care plan to cover them from Morning to night and here it is. Of course this plan evolves and becomes more complex as they master self care and as their self care becomes more high level.
Start your day by engaging the 5 Vs. Vitals: From the moment you get up open the blinds and get the first light from the sun and allow your eyes to soak it up and your skin to feel that warmth even on cloudy days. If you start your day with foods or warm liquids make sure that you are eating it from a glass or a real vessel like a cup or mug and not using plastics or paper.
1) plastics and paper hold toxins that seep into foods and beverages, and when we drink and eat from real materials we are more likely to enjoy and savor the foods. Consciously pick your first meal or drink of the day. For me it is a black-owned coffee brand Blk and Bold I know I am doing good for my community -that is the “values” and “vitals” component of the 5 Vs.
While you are at work continue to work on things that promote your Vision and encompass your Values: Have items in your work station that remind you of your vision (could be pictures of children, family or your diploma) these are things that keep you forward moving. These are called transitional items and they are both calming and encouraging.
Keep a plant in your work place because studies show that plants clean the air and create healthy environments. When plants sense negative energy they die, so you and your plant can be a living barometer for how your health is going. We also derive pride and joy when our plants are thriving.
At the end of the work day or during your commute home work on these two V’s Validation and Venting: Validate your feelings if you are feeling overwhelmed name the feeling out loud or putting them in a digital journal my clients like (Day one journal app). Use the accurate terms, instead of stress, consider using anxiety, instead of moody, use the word sad or depressed, if you are feeling joyful rather than saying “okay” use the word happy. We need to validate that our feelings are real.
Venting (the word literally means to release air or emotion and we know that air and emotions circulate so this is a healthy form of communication). If you live alone then on your way home go out of your way to communicate with a co-worker. I am a fan of words of kindness. Compliment someone, or start a conversation with someone on your commute.
Hold a door for someone, engage in an act of kindness or altruism, this is good for your mental health and this is self care. If you are partnered or you have kids or even a pet make room for quality time with them. What does this look like? Device free engagement. Small acts of altruism helps us to combat depression and anxiety.
Night time remind yourself of the vision:
We tend to think about our day at night and you can validate your feelings by putting 3 worries in the journal and then balance that with 3 things you are grateful for that day and positive psychology shows us that this allows us to manage and unpack our anxiety as well as creating natural joy that helps our sleep.
About Dr. Judith Joseph M.D.
Judith Fiona Joseph, M.D., M.B.A, is a Board Certified Psychiatrist. Dr. Joseph is a clinical assistant professor of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center and is Chairwomen of The Women in Medicine
Initiative for Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons.
Dr. Joseph is an expert on various media platforms and has made national television appearances on The Dr. Oz
Show, The Mel Robbins Show, Investigation Discovery and CBS news. She is a medical consultant for Apple TV.
She recently received a 2020 Share Care Digital Emmy Award for her MedCircle series on PTSD. She teaches
medical media courses to physicians and medical students at Columbia University and New York University.
Education & Training