I recently asked my husband to drop off my bike for a routine maintenance. It wasn’t that anything was wrong — I just felt that it needed a tune-up.
The bike mechanic assured my husband that “it would be like having a new bike.”
And yes, it was!
I bought my bike in 2016, and usually ride it about two to three times per week. During the past five years, I think that I took it for its maintenance checks maybe twice – the pandemic last year made things a blur. Recently, I had noticed that it wasn’t shifting gears as smoothly, the tape had begun to peel, and the chain probably needed a little oil. The extent of my bike maintenance skills stops at airing up the tires!
As promised, my serviced bike is definitely like new – it has new bright pink tape on the handles, the brakes are aligned and new, and the gears shift smoothly.
While my having a bike tune-up is relatively minor, it brings up an interesting point. We routinely perform maintenance on our bikes, our cars, our homes; but we feel guilty when we perform maintenance on ourselves –
we worry that if we make time for ourselves that we are being
in some way and
letting others down.
The thing with maintenance is it’s a gradual decline. The decline almost goes unnoticed — and by the time you do notice something is off, it can be too late. Our cars have a handy schedule built right into the system — we get a pop-up notification on the dashboard when it’s time to service them, air up the tires, or check the engine. The notification keeps things from getting neglected to the point of no return, and most of us dutifully follow that recommended schedule.
Just like our cars, our bikes, and our homes, people need maintenance and care routines as well; or the consequence could be significant damage. And the decline can be slow — if we don’t stay on top of it, it could be too late. Think of water – by the time you feel thirst, you’re already dehydrated!
Our maintenance and self-care will vary depending on the circumstances. It can mean a walk. It can mean a pedicure. It can mean a vacation. Or it can mean a splurge for yourself. What we do and when we do it really depends on how depleted our battery is and which battery — the physical, emotional, or mental one.
Personally, I know that I need some time to myself every day, my profession requires me to engage with others during the day, so to recharge my batteries I need peaceful solitude — in the past, this time for self-reflection came from running, today it comes from swimming or riding my bike. By allowing myself the time to be in my own thoughts, raise my heart rate, and build a sweat, I am better able to care for my patients, run my business, and love my family.
As a plastic surgeon, one type of maintenance that I frequently see patients neglect is caring for their skin. Among the reasons are time and energy, but also good skincare is expensive. It can be hard to justify that cost guilt-free, but like all forms of maintenance and care — if we stay on top of it and dutifully follow a recommended schedule, we won’t have to deal with major damage and repair! Our skin is a reflection of ourselves — it’s the first thing people see. At a bare minimum, we should wash our skin, hydrate our skin, and use sunscreen. As we become more concerned about the aging process, we should consider incorporating a retinol to stimulate collagen regeneration and prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
Some patients may be concerned that many anti-aging surgical improvements may not be permanent. In other words, Botox lasts three to six months, fillers last one to two years, and a facelift will not halt the aging process. Rather, you have to continue with maintenance — taking care of your skin, taking care of yourself, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle — to maintain any surgical result. For example, if you gain weight or don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle, the results may be less than satisfactory.
While what we do for self-care may not be as simple as what was required for my bike, it is important that we view the things that we do for ourselves as necessary for our physical and mental well-being — because they really are.