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I was running into a clinic a few weeks ago and glanced into the passenger seat of the car next to me. This is what I saw – a bit of trash on the floor, some wrappers, and garbage of a busy driver. Something haphazardly strewn in a moment of rushing. And I saw an empty bowl with a spoon on the seat – some type of yogurt, the creamy residue was left in the bowl after a busy breakfast on the way to work. And here was my immediate thought: Whose bowl is this? Was she rushing into work after scarfing down a parfait in traffic? Was he getting his teen to eat just a bit before school while dashing into clinic? Was this a lunch break in someone’s car as the only respite from patients? Was the bowl from this morning or days ago, now forgotten?

This is my bowl.

This is your bowl.

It’s all too busy right now. It’s rushed and chaotic and we are being asked to solve problems that are brand new to us or that we have limited resources to solve. We are rushing into work, out of work, cramming in an endless task of to-do’s during an unprecedented time of continual barriers. We are having to justify our opinion and expertise. And we are supposed to balance our work with self-care, family care, partner care, aging parent care, child care, and the like.

Can you stop and feel this for a moment?

One of the largest contributors to burnout is emotional exhaustion. And the only cure for emotional exhaustion? Feel the feelings. Yep. Sorry if that’s not you; but we must begin. And if you can’t begin for you, can you feel it for this person? The person with the forgotten bowl?

I had SO much empathy for him or her. I had tears in my eyes and no judgment in my heart. Probably because it hit so close to home. What had I rushed through that day? A meal? A hug? A sweet text? My shower? Saying goodbye to my kids before school?

We must begin to feel our feelings. I know it’s scary to many of you. I know some of you are thinking, “If I feel my feelings, I’ll never come out of it.” But the truth is that the sooner we acknowledge the pain, it dissipates; and the more we ignore pain, the bigger it grows. Think of emotional pain like an incessant toddler knocking on the door for attention. Or the dinging that happens in your car until you put on your seat belt. It demands to be heard.

Once we acknowledge emotional pain and overwhelm, then we can begin to address it. So, that’s the first step. Saying, “this is too much for me right now” or “I’m lonely in this pain and unsure what to do” or noticing someone else’s overwhelm and saying, “me too.”

Send me a picture of your passenger seat – I embrace all of your mess!

Once we tackle step one, we’ll move on to step two. Messy bowls, for now, my friends.

With compassion,

Dr. Amy


As we enter the month of December and all-things holiday merry-making, I want to remind you that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed. Almost 2 years into a global pandemic, I know most healthcare providers are still reeling from what they’ve been through. If you’re like me, it’s as if the last two years have been an eternity. So, just a short reminder from author Brianna Weist that self-care is often unbeautiful. It’s not about eating better, sleeping more and exercising – but often about tough choices and creating boundaries. It’s certainly something to ponder as we enter the holiday season of mounting obligations.

Here you go:

Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing.

It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.

It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.

A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.

True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.

It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.

It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unexceptional. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends. It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening.

If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.

It is no longer using your hectic and unreasonable life as justification for self-sabotage in the form of liquor and procrastination. It is learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start trying to take care of yourself… and maybe finding that taking care lovingly attends to a lot of the problems you were trying to fix in the first place.

It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people.

It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it.

-Brianna Wiest

Grateful for you in all the ways you show up – for yourself and for others!

Dr. Amy

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