Make Time to Take Time

Make time to take time...for yourself, that is. As we students return to the NUHS classes this week, after a well-needed winter break, many of us find that we aren't quite as well rested as we thought we'd be. Personally, I envisioned a two and a half week stint of total relaxation...or, at least, as relaxing as life can be with two young children! Instead, what I got was the usual hectic schedule of drop-offs and pick-ups, with my own work crammed in between appointments and holiday travels.

The welcoming sight of a snow-covered Lombard campus as we returned for the "spring" trimester.

Yes, that's right. I came back to campus in January just as stressed out as when I walked off after my last final exam back in December. How did this happen? After talking with some classmates this week, I quickly realized that I was not alone. Sure, a few people took it easy and maintained the "AOM" lifestyle of healthy eating and weekly acupuncture treatments. Lucky them. The rest of us overindulged with the holiday treats and put the exercise routines on hold while we visited relatives and friends.

What's wrong with us? Don't we, students of acupuncture and oriental medicine, know better? Don't we know that a relaxing and rejuvenating acupuncture session is even more important when we are stressed out by final exams and holiday travels? It turns out, we're just like everyone else. We don't always practice what we preach. And, the prognosis isn't great for our future actions, either. An article in Newsweek  revealed that 44% of male doctors are overweight or obese (Kalb, 2008). Sure, this is better than the average American statistic, which puts around 65% of Americans as either overweight or obese, but it's not role-model material! (Kalb, C. (2008). Drop That Corn Dog, Doctor. Newsweek, 152(15), 17.)

If we don't take the time to make time for ourselves--for our health and well-being--now, as students, then how can we become a strong force for good in our future patients' lives? I want to model the behavior and lifestyle that I am explaining to my patients. If I can't prioritize and sacrifice to make time for my own acupuncture sessions and yoga classes, then why should a patient take my advice to do so? If they see me wolfing down my fast food in between appointments, then why should they look to more healthy options for their own lunch?

My personal path this year will be to slow down, to be more aware of my choices and my priorities, and to model the lifestyle and mindset that I want to introduce to others. Welcome, 2014.