Recognizing that Caring for Yourself Is Invaluable

Busy Ob/Gyn shares her wisdom

Does it feel like your to-do list is never ending? Working, taking care of kids and family members, running a household, volunteering — it may sometimes feel impossible to make time for the person juggling it all — YOU.

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Uma Perni, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist with Cleveland Clinic’s Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health Institute, says she learned to care of herself the hard way, as she explains in this Q&A. When her son and daughter were young, she quickly learned she could not care for them if she did not care for herself.

Q:  What was it like when your children were young?

I would push myself, working as hard as I could, giving up sleep in order to try and do absolutely everything. I realized that this was not in anyone’s best interest. Since then, I make time to focus on myself first. I try to take time for myself every weekend to relax and eliminate stress.

That means taking a walk in the woods. A trip to the spa. Yoga. Meditation. Time with a good book. Anything to recharge, renew and prevent feeling burned out so I can be at my best both at work and home. I also try as hard as possible not to deprive myself of too much sleep!

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Q:  How do you stay healthy?

By putting a lot of thought into my food choices and preparing as many meals at home as possible. Choosing whole foods and reading labels are a must. I also try to include as much physical activity as I can. And remember, psychological well-being is just as important as physical well-being. Consider all areas of yourself: Mind, body and soul.

Q:  What advice do you have for female physicians?

One of the biggest challenges for women in medicine is balancing the demands of career and raising kids. I try to prioritize and try to focus on just one thing at a time. This way whatever the task at hand is, it truly gets my full attention. Today, I have two caring, well-balanced teenagers. It was all well worth it.

Prioritize what is really important to you in your work and at home. After that — don’t sweat the small stuff! Also accept as much help as possible without feeling guilty about it. It helps to get support from others going through similar situations or to join women-focused groups.

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