I have a dental appointment today. I loathe going to the dentist. But I’m going. Self care isn’t just about our emotional and mental health. Physical health shouldn’t get overlooked, but unfortunately caregivers are notoriously bad at attending to their physical health. I get it, we are so busy taking care of everyone else when it’s our turn we brush it off. Often times we are taking care of people in much poorer health than ourselves we think we can postpone that check up a little longer. Or we ignore that tooth pain or body ache because other people have it so much worse.
Cut it out. (Per usual I am saying this mostly to myself). Keep those appointments. Don’t be a martyr and pretend everything is fine if it’s not. Who is that serving in the long run? I go to the dentist every 6 month for a cleaning. I do this to avoid having a major surprise of a root canal or multiple cavities etc because I waited 3 years to see a dentist.
Now I recognize that I have dental insurance which many do not, and that I have access to good medical care that is covered, which many do not. I fully acknowledge my privilege and it makes me nuts that this isn’t available to everyone. I used to work with someone who hadn’t gone to the dentist in many years due to lack of funds. But you know what he could afford? Dental floss. He took such good care of his teeth by the time he was finally able to afford a dental visit, very little needed to be done. That’s not going to work for everyone, but keep in mind all the little things you can do when you are in between jobs or uninsured that will keep you healthier.
If you are fortunate to have insurance, use it. Practice preventative medicine on yourself. Don’t “wait and see” on anything. Years ago when I went in for a routine skin check (I had had issues in the past) I mentioned to the doctor that something didn’t look right. They checked it out and said it didn’t look suspicious but after some back and forth we agreed that they should remove it “just in case.” It was malignant melanoma. I remember the frantic sound in the doctor’s voice when they called me. They had NOT expected that diagnosis.
I no longer believe in the “wait and see” method. Would you want a loved one to “wait and see” on something that was physically bothering them? Nope. So practice the same care and tenderness you would provide for others on yourself. In case you haven’t been told this in awhile, you matter.
When you go to those appointments, or eat well, or exercise or get enough sleep or floss, you are saying to yourself and those around you, “I matter.”
Take care of YOU.