Ep #3: Why Self-Care Doesn't Always Work



Hello, amazing nurses! I’m talking about something I’m really passionate about today and that’s the concept of self-care. I know, I know, self-care’s a hot topic right now and you’re probably really sick of hearing about it. But bear with me because I’m tackling self-care in a way you’ve probably never considered before.

I’m on a mission to dispel the myths behind self-care and the common misconceptions there are about it. So, in order to explain the right way to self-care, I’m going to separate self-care into two categories today: self-care consumption and self-care creation.

Massages and vacations are nice but what if you could actually create self-care and have it available whenever you needed it and you didn’t have to purchase it or obtain it from somewhere else? Listen in today to learn how questioning your thoughts can open you up to the kind of self-care that can really change your state.

To celebrate the launch of the show, I’m going to be giving away Starbucks gift cards to three lucky listeners who subscribe, rate and review the show on iTunes. Find out how to enter here!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why the way that you show up in the world matters.

  • What it means to practice self-care and how to do it right.

  • Why exercise alone can’t alleviate stress.

  • The two categories of self-care.

  • Three questions to ask yourself when you’re feeling stressed.

  • Why you must question your thoughts.

Listen to the Full Episode:


Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Permanent Weight Loss for Busy Nurses, the only podcast that teaches busy, working nurses the practical tools they need to feel better at work and keep the weight off for good. Here’s your host, Registered Nurse and Certified Weight-Loss Coach, Charmaine Platon…

Hello, my amazing nurses. And, by the way, if you’re a nurse, yes you are amazing. It’s a fact, because you are a nurse, you’re amazing. Welcome to episode number three of Permanent Weight Loss for Busy Nurses. How are you all doing today? How was your last shift? Did you work night shift, day shift?

I just wanted to share something about my personal weight loss journey that was actually something new I learned about myself. So, I never knew that paying attention to my weight loss, paying attention to what I ate and everything, like really taking care of my body would create so many important skills for me that transferred to so many different areas of my life.

And one of the areas of my life that I felt was really kind of not a priority for a long time was actually how I dressed. Like, I always put the way looked and dressed dead last. For example, I would only get a haircut like once a year. I didn’t buy new clothes frequently, maybe only like twice a year, and I only wore gym clothes all the time.

And at the time, I didn’t think this was bad. I wasn’t doing it because I was feeling depressed or anything. It just wasn’t a priority for me at the time. But I never realized, until I did this work on myself and until I was really paying attention to what was going on in my mind and my weight loss journey, that I wasn’t really taking care of myself.

And it’s so funny because I always tell my patients with depression on my unit that they have to get up out of bed, they have to follow the activity schedule on the unit, and they have to shower and dress up. But the funny thing is that I never felt like dressing up myself and looking good. Like, I just always wore gym clothes and thought that was fine.

But the way that you show up in the world is really a reflection of how you’re thinking about yourself, which I find fascinating. I mean, this is literally how we asses our psyche patients. If you forgot about in nursing school, we use the mini mental status exam every single shift. And it’s like we literally look at a patient, see how they’re dressed up, see how their hair is. Like, no joke, this is part of our shift assessment. We look at what they’re wearing, their hair. We describe if they’re disheveled or unkempt. We look at how the patient presents themselves and to the world by how they dress up. So, when I think about it in this way, I think about how am I showing up in the world? What is the message I’m sending off by the way that I dress, by the way I do my hair? Like, really think about that.

How you present yourself to the world matters because everything you put on your skin, everything you put on your face or your hair, it’s saying a message in some way to everyone else around you. So it’s a good opportunity to kind of ask yourself, like, how do you want to present yourself and what message do you want to give off to people around you?

And so now, in this journey of mine, I’m actually paying a lot more attention to how I dress and how I do my hair. Like, I have this amazing hair person in Culver City. She does such an amazing job with my hair. She colors it perfectly. She’s an artist, like, a literal artist. I love her and she gets me. and I go to her literally every three months. Like, I make it a point to go there regularly now, which I never did before.

And so this is why doing this work is so valuable, like, it will literally transfer to so many other areas of your life, and so I just wanted to share that with you guys, that this is also an opportunity for you to help you see that weight loss does affect other areas of your own life. So that’s very exciting for me. I am excited to be a person who liked to dress up, who likes to wear cute outfits. Like, I know maybe it might sound like a no-brainer to some people, especially some other women, but for me, this is a big deal, especially because I wear scrubs three times a week. So dressing up is kind of nice.

Anyhow, today, I’m super excited to talk about this topic because it’s something I’m really passionate about, but I’m also on a mission to dispel the myths behind it and the common misconceptions there are about this. So, what I’m going to talk today about is self-care. And hold up, before you tune out and before you say to yourself, “Yeah, yeah, Charmaine, we know what self-care is. Please, say no more…” I get it. I totally get it, and this is exactly why I want to talk to you about it.

It’s a big buzzword in the medical community and in the health profession, right? Everybody talks about this, especially in the nursing world. But the thing is, it’s largely misunderstood. And that’s why I wanted to break it down exactly and help you see exactly what it means to practice self-care and how to do it right. Yes, there’s a way to do it right.

And what I mean by right is that there’s a way to do it effectively so that it can have a lasting change on your results and it can have a lasting change on your emotional health. As I was preparing for this episode, I was trying to think about the best way to describe this concept and what it actually means to practice self-care.

So, I separated self-care into two very distinct categories; self-care consumption and self-care creation. I did some research and I literally looked up self-care for nurses on Google and found results like get some exercise, get some sleep, and eat healthy. I swear, the top three Google results all said the same thing, or maybe you’re not taking enough hot baths or massages or vacations. And I used to believe this too, that things like exercise meant that I was taking care of myself. And in my first episode, I mentioned that I’m a certified personal trainer and, just because I’m proud of this, I’m not just a personal trainer, but I’m a Spartan Race trainer. Like, I’m a certified Spartan Race coach, so that means I train people on how to run obstacle course races like mud-runs.

And, as you can imagine, exercise and fitness is a huge part of my life. And you can ask anyone, like, I was the biggest fitness junkie. I’ve run three full marathons, which is 26.2 miles long, in case you don’t know. I feel like runners love to correct people, like, “It’s 26.2 miles.” But anyway, I’ve run three full marathons, I’ve run two ultra-marathons, which are both 30 miles long, with obstacles. And I’ve run at least 15 half-marathons, and at least, on top of that, 15 obstacle course races.

So yeah, I was a little obsessed with fitness and I was a little obsessed with racing. But here’s the part that completely boggled my mind; even if I exercised like crazy – and yes, most people would consider this crazy. Like, I was working out three to four times a week.

This is how it would go for me. I’d workout, I’d feel great, I’d get that endorphin fix and everything, and then I would go back to work and I’d feel like crap all over again. Like, can any of you relate to this? I thought that exercise would fix it for me, that as long as I worked out enough and I did it consistently, my mind would just magically heal itself and I’d stop feeling like crap. But here’s what I learned over the years; that working out can never solve my stress because my stress always came from a thought that I was having in my mind, which I mentioned in episode number two. And just like we talked about in the second episode also, stress comes from how you interpret a situation and not from the situation itself.

In this case, whenever I went to work, I had a thought about work that was creating stress for me. And because I didn’t know what that thought was and because I didn’t even know that it was my thinking that was creating stress, I just continued the same hamster wheel over and over and over.

I continued to workout like crazy thinking that my workouts would help me solve my stress for good. But, of course, it didn’t. And I see this pattern among so many of my nurse clients and my fellow nurses. Like, I see them going on very expensive vacations to, “Escape the stress of the unit,” only to find that, yup, the stress is still there when they come back. You go right back to square one and you’re stressed and you want to go on vacation all over again, even though you just came back.

And nurses might go shopping for expensive things sometimes, they might eat at expensive places, and still, it’s the same thing; once they come back to work, the stress always comes back, which is followed by the overeating of the cookies in the break room, followed by the self-bullying, followed by the food guilt, which leads to even more overeating and obviously, staying less and less away from our weight loss goals. Why does the stress keep coming back? Because the stress starts in your brain.

So, the theory behind what I teach, as I also mention in episode number two, is based on the theory behind cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT – that it’s always about how we interpret a situation or how we think about something that creates a feeling for us.

Now, how is this all related to self-care, Charmaine? Like, we heard this in episode number two already. So, this brings me to my next point, and what it means by self-care consumption versus self-care creation. When we talk about the word consumption or consuming, it literally means, according to dictionary.com, that we’re using up something. We’re eating or drinking up something. We’re decomposing something, we’re absorbing something. We’re basically using up something until it’s gone or we’re just done with it.

We consume the vacation, the trip, the massage, and devour it until it’s over. It helps us feel better as the thing goes on. But once we’re done consuming it, that’s the end of it. Then, we have to go back to the, “Reality,” and torture ourselves for another two to three months until we can have another seven-day break that we’re anxiously waiting for every single day, and the clock just goes ticking slower and slower and slower. Oh gosh, it just feels miserable saying that.

If you’re a self-care consumer, it’s like you’re buying or purchasing self-care as a product and you’re using up whatever the product is until it’s all gone. And it’s a product that can literally only be outsourced, like something you could only get outside of you. So you have to constantly go back to it over and over and over to get that sense of relaxation that you’re looking for.

We don’t only do this with massages and vacations. But we do this with what we literally consume, like what we eat and drink, right? We eat out at restaurants, we drink a glass of wine or two after work, or we get the free Subway sandwiches in the staff lounge. Now, I want to say that nothing is wrong with this. Obviously, I love going on vacation, I love getting massages, and I love eating amazing and delicious food. But the only thing I want you to see is that if you’re a self-care consumer, you’re depending on things outside of you to make you feel better. And if you do that, imagine how challenging it would be to handle stress at work, that every single time you felt stressed, you had to buy food, or get off the unit, or take a break. Like every single time you have to do something outside of you to seek that relief.

And nothing is wrong with those things, but sometimes, especially as a nurse, it’s just not possible to obtain those things in the immediate moment we are feeling frustrated or upset. But what if this didn’t have to be the case. What if you could actually create self-care and have it available whenever you needed it and you didn’t have to purchase it or obtain it from somewhere else? That is what it means to be, what I call, a self-care creator. When you look at the word creation, creation means that you cause something to come into being. You don’t have to buy it because you’re creating wellbeing for yourself right on the spot. And here’s the best news that I could give you, you guys; this is available to you right now.

But how do you do this? And again, I’m going to repeat this over and over to drill it in your head, because repetition is how we learn, but it’s our interpretation of a situation that causes us to feel something and it’s our feelings that drive our behaviors. This is amazing to know because we cannot always change our situation, as I’m sure many of you know.

We can’t always prevent our patient from falling. We can’t always prevent a code. But we can change our interpretation and our thinking about it. So, in the last episode, I challenged you all to practice what I call neutralizing the circumstance and to really see that every situation you’re in at work is absolutely neutral; that circumstances are only painful for us when we think about them in a way that creates the pain.

So the next step in this process, after you separate the thoughts from the facts, is to gain awareness of your thinking. Now, I really invite you to practice writing this down so you can see it tangibly in front of you, but if you’re driving or multitasking right now, make a mental note to do this the next time you’re at work.

So, think about a recent time on the unit when you were completely stressed and you wanted to eat something to feel better. Now, ask yourself these questions; what are the facts of what actually happened? What were you feeling about what happened? And why did you feel this way?

Your answer to the third question, why did you feel this way, is what is going to reveal your thought about what happened. But I really want you to dig deep and spend a good five minutes on this, even 10 minutes or so on this. I want you to keep asking yourself that third question, why you felt this way, I want you to ask yourself why this was a problem for you until you literally recreate that feeling of stress you had, because once you’re able to tap into that sensation when you’re thinking that thought, you’ve hit the right thought. You’ve hit the underlying thought that was creating stress for you.

And this is so important to know; gaining awareness of your thoughts is the first step to becoming a self-care creator because you’re able to literally see the thought that is actually creating the stress for you. And once you unearth it and dig up and manifest this thought, then you’re able to see it for what it is; a sentence in your brain.

And I really invite you to try doing this every time you feel something stressful at work. So imagine you’re at work again and you are faced with a scenario that you would usually find stressful. So, if you could think of, for example, you come on the unit and you’re told you’re charge nurse for the day. I’m telling you, this was my number one thing I always felt so angry and stressed about.

So, let’s say that you’re charge nurse and you’re feeling immediately stressed and immediately upset. So let’s ask ourselves the three questions. First of all, what are the facts? Well, the facts are, you’re charge nurse for the day. And what are you feeling? You’re feeling immediately stressed out. And now, ask yourself, for yourself privately, why are you feeling this way? And of course, this will only work if you truly do feel like being charge nurse is something stressful for you.

But if it’s not something stressful for you, you can think of something else that might be stressful for you at work. And keep asking why you’re feeling that way, why it’s a problem, until you are able to really feel that stress. And now, from this point, when you’re able to see your thoughts, if you’re writing it down on paper, if you’re just kind of thinking about it in your mind and you’re seeing those thoughts that you have, we want to look at these thoughts with complete curiosity and compassion for ourselves.

And you might dig up thoughts that you never actually realized you had, which is what most people, myself included, tend to do. Like, most people go about their day with absolute zero awareness of what they’re thinking and so they’re constantly reacting to everything around them. They have no control over what they’re feeling because they don’t even know what’s creating their feelings for them. Like, for me, for a long time, if I was feeling stressed on the shift, I truly believed that it was just the situation and the circumstances around me. Like, if I went to work and there were a lot of things going on, I just thought it was those things that were happening to me. And I always felt like I was at the mercy of everything around me and it was the most disempowering feeling in the world because I felt like I had no control over my situation at all.

But, if you want to truly create self-care for yourself with lasting results and you want to gain complete control over your stress and your personal wellbeing, you have to take that time to dig deep and really asses what’s going on for you, why are you feeling the way you’re feeling, and really take this all as an opportunity to just get to know yourself a little bit better.

Once we discover the thought that’s creating stress for you, then this will give you the power to ultimately change that thought and truly create self-care. And the best news is that this power is accessible at any time to you. We have an ability to create peace, relaxation, confidence, love, and whatever feeling we want, all because we have the power, as human beings, to believe whatever we want to believe.

But the first step again is to actually know what we’re thinking with curiosity so we can learn how to change those thoughts. I’ll definitely go over this in future episodes about how to change our thinking so we can get the results we want, but the foundation behind all of this first, which is very important, is you actually have to know what you’re thinking.

You have to know what negative thoughts you’re having that are creating negative emotions for you. And that is how, when we get that awareness, we’ll know what the problem is, and then in the future, we’ll be able to solve it.

Now, before I go, I’m inviting you to join my podcast launch giveaway. To celebrate the launch of my new show, I’m going to be giving away Starbucks gift cards just for those of you listening to my podcast. But I’m only going to be giving away Starbucks gift cards to three lucky listeners who subscribe to my show and rate and review the show on iTunes. And it doesn’t have to be a five-star review, although I sure hope you do love the show. But I want your honest feedback so I can create an amazing show for you that provides you a ton of value.

Visit www.thenurseweightlosscoach.com/itunes to learn more about the contest and how to enter. I’ll be announcing the winners on the show in an upcoming episode, to tune in. Thank you all again for listening, for joining me on today’s episode. I hope you all have a great shift today if you’re driving to work. If you worked from the night shift, I hope you had a wonderful shift and I will talk to you all again next week.

Thanks for listening to Permanent Weight Loss for Busy Nurses. If you like what you heard and want even more, head over to thenurseweightlosscoach.com today!

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