It’s cute and fun to talk about self-care in the form of bubble baths and glasses of wine, or overflowing cups of coffee and Netflix binges.
While those certainly are beneficial and a form of self-care, today, I’m talking about the harder, inconvenient, less-fun form of self-care: your health.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had families come into my office with all the kids in braces, no cavities, and all of their recommended treatment done in a timely manner, while the mom hasn’t had her cleaning and check-up done in years. When I encourage (ahem, push) for her to have her turn in the chair, I get the same excuses.
I just don’t have time. They keep me so busy. I want to take care of my kids first. It’s so expensive. We’ve spent all of our money on the kids’ teeth.
I get it. Part of me applauds her for being so selfless.
The kids should come first. But then, inevitably, she shows up in my office for an emergency exam with a toothache or broken tooth, and now we’re talking thousands of dollars if she wants to keep her tooth; whereas if she had an exam done three years ago, it would have been a $150 filling. She starts to cry, and I know she’s feeling guilty and embarrassed. I want to hug her and tell her it’s going to be okay, and I also want to shake her and yell at her for neglecting herself. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking at the same time.
This isn’t just a theme in dentistry; it spans all forms of healthcare. Tough love time, ladies.
This hard-to-hear message is for all the moms who haven’t had a yearly check-up with a primary care physician, who are struggling with anxiety or depression but haven’t sought a counselor, who are unhealthily overweight and don’t make lifestyle changes to improve your health. You can buy all the bath bombs and face masks you want in the disguise of “self-care,” but the truth is this:
You. Have. To. Take. Care. Of. Yourself.
Self-care isn’t so much fun when it involves lab tests and treadmills and doctor’s bills, but it’s necessary. We put it off because it’s hard to make time for something we don’t want to do and we don’t want to pay for. But like I tell my patients, “Yes, dentistry can sometimes be expensive, but neglecting your teeth and then dealing with emergencies is always 100% more expensive and inconvenient.”
The same is true with the rest of your body. What do you think costs more? A doctor’s visit, bloodwork, and prescription medication for high blood pressure/dysfunctional thyroid/high cholesterol, or an emergency room visit and dozens of tests to rule out a heart attack, stroke, or some other preventable medical emergency?
So this message is for you, mama. The one sitting there, thinking to herself, “Hmm…when was my last doctor’s visit?” or “Should I talk to someone about how anxious I’ve been feeling?” or “I really would like to lose a little weight to live a healthier life.” My response to you is “Call. Schedule. Go.”
Do it to set an example for your kids, but more importantly, do it for yourself.
Because you love yourself. Because you want to live your best life. Because you deserve to take care of yourself. Because sometimes self-care isn’t massages and alone time; sometimes self-care isn’t fun or convenient or even something you look forward to. Real self-care is making your health and well-being a priority.
So call your doctor and make an appointment.