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The Best Advice I Can Give – What do You do?

I want to share a truth that you’ve undoubtedly heard before.  But in my experience supporting thousands of practitioners, most have heard this advice before – and even Agree with it, but very few actually Do it.

After all, it’s a common trap.  You can have a perfect business model.  You can have excellent technical knowledge. Keen diagnostic skills. Impeccable credentials. A fabulous team. You can do all these things “right”.  But still fail to create a wildly successful practice. Or still fail to help your clients consistently get well and stay well. Or still burnout before you achieve all you feel called to do.  

This I know to be true:  your success and fulfillment and longevity in doing this work is going to be directly correlated with Your level of self-care.   

Because the reality is that doing this work is challenging.  It takes a lot of time. Focus. Resiliency. Creativity. Persistence.  Commitment. And the heaviness of what our patients and clients are unburdening themselves of in pursuit of healing can still hang on our shoulders.  My advice is to always prioritize filling your own cup first.  And then give generously to those you serve with the overflow from your cup.   

Sure, you can over-give and deprioritize yourself for a while.  Putting your children, your spouse, your patients, your team, your communities and causes and families consistently ahead of You.  Getting by with a half-full cup and rationalizing your resentment or frustration and fatigue. But I have never seen this approach work long-term.  

Eventually you too will burnout and likely succumb to disease in the very way that you educate your patients to avoid.  When we are burned out, we do not show up for our patients with our full creativity and intuition.  Our work becomes acceptable and a bit numb. But no longer inspired and transformative. And in some cases, we leave behind the career we were called to pursue because it all becomes “just too much”.  

I do Not want this to happen to you.  But I know that this is likely the default if you don’t purposefully prevent it.  The world needs what You uniquely have to offer. There are patients and clients literally waiting for the very specific skills and health care approach that you offer.  The future, sustainable health of our human family needs You.  We need you to Show Up and do this work in a way that is authentic, fulfilling, and uplifting to You.  When we prioritize our own self-care and fill our cup first, then it is easy and gratifying to give generously from all that overflows that cup.  Our cup of wellness, joy, and ease.

Of course only You know what truly fills Your cup.  Perhaps it’s time alone. Solitude in nature. A scorching hot yoga class.  Time spent in a balancing hobby. An adventure with friends. Loud music and raucous dancing. Gratitude journaling.  Weekly Thai massage. Hire someone to do the parts of your work that deflate you. A weekday off with your best buddy roaming the city.  Put a hammock in your living room. A vacation without your family.  A long snuggle with a beloved pet (maybe even take them to work with you).  Take art lessons. Get to bed at 9pm. Or 8pm with an hour lost in a book that isn’t about health.  Ballroom dance class.  Yoga in the middle of the day.  A hot bath. These are all seemingly simple things.  But they are powerful. And your list is probably weird and questionable to some of your friends and family.  That’s okay. Stop “should”ing on yourself and start full-filling yourself. Nobody but You has to understand and say Yes to what fills your cup.  

As we begin a new year, I want you to get honest with yourself about what would fill your cup.  And then start taking steps now to make it happen as a priority. Stop settling for “it’s just not convenient” or “there’s no way”.  There Is a way.  Just begin.  Your cup just needs your prioritization, creativity, and commitment.  Our mission needs You to be showing up with a full cup.       

For inspiration, I want to share some unexpected and perhaps surprising things that I personally do to fill my own cup.  But of course this is my list, and I know yours will be different and perhaps unexpected too.  Please Comment below and share a thing or two that You do to fill your cup.  Inspire your colleagues.  

  • Let a dog adopt you. Or multiple ones (we have six). The amount of pleasure, fun, and love we give each other is infinite.  Pets are incredibly skilled at pulling you out of your mind and into the present moment with lightness and love. We also have a stellar and beloved dogsitter so that having this large family doesn’t mean we are homebound or stressed when traveling.
  • Wake up and get up when your body naturally decides it is ready.  Go to bed early enough that you are almost never awakened by an alarm clock.  I don’t set one, but if you need that safety net, aim to never actually let it go off before you rise for the day.
  • Sleep well.  Seriously.  Whatever is in the way of you having deep, consistent, lengthy sleep, get to the bottom of it.  Stop tolerating it.  Sleep in a separate room from your partner if they disturb your sleep.  I do.  Contrary to common myth, it’s not “bad” for your relationship.  In fact, if you and your partner are both well-rested, you will likely enjoy more fun, more connection, more intimacy, and more gratitude for each other every day.  I do!
  • Treat mindfulness like it’s an important appointment. It is. Set aside as sacred a time every day when you connect with your spirit, your soul, in whatever way makes your heart sing and transcend the hubbub of the world.  I meditate, journal, dog-snuggle, and enjoy some inspirational reading each morning as the sun comes up.  If we have company or I have an early workday, I just get up earlier.  Maybe your ideal time is mid-day or late afternoon in between work and home life.  Choose what works best for you and honor that time.  It’s an important appointment.
  • Go for a “Be Here Now” walk in the middle of the day.  Rain or shine or snow.  Breathe.  Don’t talk on the phone while you do it.  In fact, leave your phone behind.  Wave at people who drive by.  Admire what you encounter along the way.  Send silent affirmations and smiles to the people you see from afar.  Even if I only do it for 10 minutes, it’s a powerful reset on what matters.
  • Make time for regular bodywork and exercise. A lot of what I do and love each day involves sitting and thinking.  Being healthy and feeling well grounded in-my-body takes focus.  Massage therapist, chiropractor, personal trainer, yoga instructor, cranio-sacral therapist, and reflexologist:  I call them my “health care team” and visit a few of them every week.  I block out time on my calendar and only cancel in the case of a true emergency.
  • Schedule vacations and truly Vacate!  If you go on a trip and you’re “doing email”, this is not vacation.  Your body is somewhere else, but your mind is still “on” and at work.  I like to do things on purpose.  Work hard.  Play hard.  Rest hard.  Take true breaks.
  • Listen to music throughout the day. I start with Native American flute.  Move into jazz standards mid-morning. Then hit the afternoon with club dance music.
  • Have a Very comfortable office chair that spins and can zoom across the hardwood floor (dogs love this game)
  • Be surrounded by plants and fresh flowers in your work environment.  Oxygen.  Green.  Life!
  • Buy and savor really, really good coffee.  Exactly how you like it.
  • Donate to something you believe in passionately.  For me, this is animal rescue and adoption. Whether its $5 or $5000, contribute to something outside yourself that inspires you and fuels someone else to find ease and joy.
  • Own an exquisitely sharp and lovely-to-hold kitchen knife.  Chopping veggies with some old, dull hand-me-down would be a hole in my cup.
  • Surprise people with kindness and unexpected generosity.  I really enjoy leaving a $5 tip on a cup of coffee, placing an inspirational quote on the windshield of the woman I just watched unload four kids from her car with great frustration, giving a fresh flower to the mailman or the lady at the laundromat, leaving a few pieces of fresh fruit in a bag on my workaholic neighbor’s doorknob, or  surprising my husband mid-day with a hand-delivered carton of fresh organic blackberries (his favorite).
  • Hire people to do the things that are important but that you don’t love doing.  You give Them the joy of earning money doing something they love in the process too.  This is anything from doing your taxes to doing your shopping to writing your client post-session notes to doing your booking/billing to doing presentations for your patients to picking up the presents you want to give to loved ones.  None of these things costs as much as you might think.  You just have to decide that you’re “worth it”.

I hope these resonate with you or at least inspire you to prioritize your own.  Now I really want to learn from yours.  Please Share away!

Here’s to Self Care, your cup filling up and running over, and the Success and Impact it will create,

14 Questions for “The Best Advice I Can Give – What do You do?”

  1. 14

    I really loved this letter. I have had to re-prioritize this past month and am still doing work there. This past year has been a flurry of growth, learning, growing my practice, etc that I have neglected myself. That’s a habit, there’s no 1/2 way with me! I’ve readjusted my work hours, scheduled my days to be more productive, have decided to wait until April to enroll in year #2 SAFM. These next three months are focused on growing the business, learning how to market, creating a group program, studying for and taking the NBHWC exam in February, and letting my body recover. I have an autoimmune disease process that gets out of hand when I work too hard.
    Thank you, Tracy, for the reminders to honor our own health and to work from a full cup.

  2. 13
    Joan Zietlow says:

    My self-care is not consistent yet and getting better. We have a 24 hours spa that is amazing and I am going there tonight and through the new year.
    I have a massage therapist that is a 75 yr old Vietnam Vet, 6’7″ and incredibly intuitive for what I need. The month on December has been loaded with 3 funerals, one my ex that sent me on an emotional roller coaster of broken dreams surfacing. My massage therapist was amazing at helping my body release the pain and sadness and move towards healing. I’m working to see him every 2 weeks. He is going through radiation for prostate cancer and oddly his helping me is healing for both of us.
    I snuggle with my cat who is learning to snuggle!
    I stopped dying my hair and have gone white to be more authentic and less intake of toxins. Hard to talk about minimizing toxins while style dying my hair, even if it is one of the “safer ones”.
    I try to go for walks daily, even if for a short time.
    I have chocolate without guilt.
    I brought 14 women business women together for Organic wine tasting for a evening of networking and it was really fun and I will do more.
    I have a marketing/sales side of me that I enjoy too.
    I use the BrainTap technology daily and it really helps me keep better focus and recall. My heart scan says my biological brain is 17 years younger than my chronological age so I feel my self-care is working!
    I started doing breast thermograms for my self-care and now have a board certified Dr. in Thermograms come to my office once a month because it feels good to share my self-care with other women and hopefully help those headed for breast cancer to turn it around.
    Being in the SAFM community is huge self care for me because I need to be around like minded individuals that get me to the core.

  3. 12
    Garey Simmons says:

    OHHHHHH WOW —- I had this conversation with my 85-year-old Holocaust survivor mother just last night. Somehow we fell into the conversation of her health and taking care of herself and being gentle with herself.

    Since joining the program, I have grown immensely in this area and can actually answer the question, “What does Garey want.” Raising 10 kids myself, there was never room for such thoughts. My youngest is now graduating from university with two bachelor degrees this May. (Proud Papa) – Here’s how I take care of myself. I spent the first five or ten minutes of the day upon slowly awakening reminding myself of my “number” goals. After programming in my financial numbers and other goals, I do my morning rituals of GREAT coffee, an hour of SAFM, write something, plan either the week or the day. Having enjoyed my delicious coffee, I get busy. I break my fast around 11 am or 12 noon with a fantastic smoothie with highly nutritious ingredients. We’ll skip the work hours where I use a rebounder (move the lymph!) periodically throughout the day, then more study time in the afternoon. Then at 5 pm off to swim. After laps, it’s the hot tub for 5 – 10 minutes, then the sauna for 10 minutes, shower. It’s like being on vacation permanently.

    Dinner is easy. Whatever I want as long as it’s Lamb Vindaloo or Palak Paneer or a Salmon burger with salad. My treat at night is Gala apple slices drizzled with lime juice. Beats the heck out of eating ice cream. Lastly, I go through my goals for the last 5 minutes as I fall to sleep. There is nothing like living the life. Thanks, Tracy for the awesome letter of confirmation and great ideas and tips this morning.

  4. 11
    Jane Durston says:

    Thank you! A really great reminder that we need to look after ourselves. I’ve certainly run into a couple of health problems at the end of this year that I’m addressing and It’s been a timely reminder that I have to look after myself first, to look after others. Jane x

  5. 10
    Kelli DeMoro says:

    Tracy, thank you!! I loved reading about your self care routines and spontaneous beautiful ways you move throughout your days. Very sweet and beautiful.. right now I plan on reviewing the last decade of my life..I’m going to see where I tend to burn out, and falter in various areas. Sleep.. is one area where I’m getting quite serious. As you stated. I need a chiropractor and a team around myself as well. I’ve never gave myself permission for this but in this new decade I’m going to leverage self care to the top of my to do list. Alas.. I can’t wait to spend more time with family and my new granddaughter. My best friend.. my Dog is always with me. My pup grounds me deeply. I’m going to love myself in this new decade regardless of who loves me or not for that matter. There’s so much to say but I will leave it here with a sincere thank you and sending all of our family blessings and love. A new decade.. whew!!! Let’s do this! ❤️ It’s late and I can’t quite see what I’ve typed! I pray it makes sense due to sleepiness and a visual problem at the moment. Lol xoxo Happy New Year!

  6. 9
    Tamara says:

    I have a wonderful self care routine…..that I only get to about once or twice a week because I let everything else come first Kids, dirty house, errands, job that I don’t want to be at( although I work with amazing people) I rarely meet with friends. I even put working on my health coaching business second to everything else.
    This post has definitely made me realize that I need to do some soul searching to find my joy so that I can spread it to my potential clients and those around me. I need to find gratitude for the blessings I do have. I need to be ok with putting my needs first which is hard as a mom of a large family.
    Thank you Tracy for being the inspiration and role model you are.

  7. 8
    Elizabeth Cassano says:

    These are fantastic. Thanks for sharing and inspiring. I’ve assumed a more focused effort on self care in 2017-18 and continue with filling my cup on joyous ways: embracing precious time with my only son, regardless of what we are doing, especially time in the car, to and from; learning that running doesn’t have to include endurance to be healthy, and treasuring travels with my parents, husband and son. 2020 goals are in the making. Thanks again.

  8. 7
    Christine Kramer says:

    I’ve fallen victim to putting myself on the back burner for too long. Starting right now I’m making myself a priority. Eating better, drinking fresh, clean water, and doing some movement each day in addition to my daily morning self Reiki. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. 6
    Amparo David. says:

    Amazing advice.
    As I was reading it I felt you we’re talking to me.!!!

  10. 5
    Charlene says:

    Self-care is so amazing once we give ourselves permission to do it. Like you, I love my massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractic and podiatrist. Every once in a while, I treat myself to manicures and pedicures. Now, I’ve started meditating in the mornings to get my day going. The day actually goes smoother. I have a cleaner come in once a week for a few hours to do the big clean and to iron (which I don’t enjoy doing, yet love my clothes nicely pressed). These things are huge in my book for my peace of mind!
    We have two beautiful cats who do not allow us the luxury of a sleep-in and it’s OK.

  11. 4
    Heather Tesch says:

    Great advice and love your list, Tracy! Mine is actually quite similar to yours. I start and end my day with a gratitude walk in any weather (I’m in MN) with my pup. He gets lots of snuggles throughout the day (best break in my work day – I swear my heart wants to explode from so much love for him!). Rife music and oldies with lots of singing later in the day. Yoga, jogging, chiro and acupuncture happen throughout the week. And watching/listening to the birds out my window — reminds me to be playful and light hearted. I wake up when the sun comes up (so it changes with the seasons)! Castor oil packs, epsom salt baths, oracle cards for positive messages, a good book and body scan meditations all fill my heart and soul. Thanks for your beautiful message!

  12. 3
    Carol Cohen says:

    Thank you for this gentle reminder. I consistently fill my cup through solitude, meditation, and long walks in the woods. As I create my own business and life, I love creating the time and space to do what feels right to me.

  13. 2
    Julie Hager says:

    This truly is the best advice! I’ve fallen into the trap of neglecting myself by choosing to put school, clients, marketing, family, friends, and my kids all above myself. Finding balance is challenging. My focus in 2020 will be filling my cup first everyday. I’m holding myself accountable by making this public declaration.

  14. 1
    Claudia Petrilli says:

    This is such a great list! I love that you adopt dogs 🙂 I hug mine throughout the day and take breaks for long walks. This has inspired me to stop putting self care on the back burner. Off to get a facial!

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