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What happens When You Are Last on the List

Article by Kim Meyer Pelltier, PT, CST  Holistic Physical Therapist

How many times have I heard “I would like to take care of myself but __________” I can fill in that blank with so many reasons inclusive of

  • I don’t have time
  • My children need me
  • I do a lot of volunteer work
  • I have way too many things to do
  • My parents need so much care
  • Work is so demanding
  • I can’t spend any money
  • etc. etc.


There always seems to be a list of things to do and taking care of self seems to be at the very bottom of the list, if it appears on the list at all. The list consisting of things like grocery shopping, taking care of house, managing family, finances, attending children’s events, helping neighbors goes on forever and most of us NEVER get to the bottom of the list where somewhere, in very tiny print, is YOU and what you need or want.

So when your back starts to hurt, or you have increasingly more regular headaches, your shoulders burn, you have difficulty walking you just kind of ignore them because you just don’t have time to take care of you. Your body is talking to you but you are choosing to ignore it.   After all, you are on the bottom of the list.  Often it is not until you just cannot do the things on the list when you may; just maybe, think about taking care of yourself.  Your body begins to speak louder and louder to you by giving you more pain and more difficulty doing the things on the list.  There is certainly no time at that point to do anything you want to do.

When we ignore our body it just starts speaking louder, and louder by giving us more pain and stops us from being able to lift, walk, get up from the floor, and sit comfortably.   At this point many take the ostrich in the sand approach to care.  Stick my head in the sand, ignore it and it will go away.  How well do you think this works?  Well it doesn’t.

By the time clients come to see me they are often far more debilitated than they were just a few months ago. It is kind of like doing a whole battle in a major war all by yourself and finally, after you are tired, hungry, worn out, depressed, and hurting asking for the recruits to help.

Treatment at this point is not just about working with the exhausted hurting body but with the whole client to start to reprioritize their lives. At this point we want to move self-care up the list.  It does no good to heal the soldier only to send him/her into the same war, with the same old tools. Reinjury becomes a certainty.  Learning how to care for self is usually more than a few exercises.

I treat holistically which, for me, means that the mind and body are intertwined. I can so remember the colloquialism “stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  We have to change the way the mind and body communicate and hear each other so that we can come to an understanding that ultimately benefits the whole being YOU.

This often means learning that you are important.  Taking care of you is one of the single most important things we can do for ourselves so we are not depleted, hurting, exhausted, and not enjoying life. Sometimes it is just that 5 minutes we stand outside allowing ourselves to witness the sunrise, the cup of coffee savored in the AM, the short walk, the lunch with a friend, or that yoga class during the week that begins to fill you and your soul.

Taking care of yourself sometimes means allowing others to help you and learn to care for yourself.  Part of my mission as a physical therapist is to help people care for themselves, mind, body and spirit.  Understanding that you cannot provide water to others if the well is empty is an important concept to remember. Your well must be kept full in order to do the things you want to do.

Filling your well must be at the top of the list every day.  Learning how to put yourself and your care at the top of the list is not always easy but it is doable. So can you see where your name is on your list?  Can you move your name to the top of the list today whether that means exercising, seeing your physical therapist, reading, fishing, taking a class.  Give it a try.  If you have difficulty, ask for assistance.  It is so necessary for your health and happiness. My list looks like this today.

  • Write blog(I love to write)
  • Look out from the house I love to the snow with a cup of coffee
  • Gentle walk
  • Treat clients
  • etc. etc.

Make your list and stay with it. Just be sure you are not at the bottom.

Contact: Kim 860.208.1535
Email: Healpt@yahoo.com

For more information please visit her website http://www.pelletierphysicaltherapy.com/