Four years ago, I did medication reviews for people living in Medicare housing facilities. Basically, individuals would bring all their medications down to the community room in the building. A nurse would give a presentation on mental health and addiction and I would go over all of their medications.
The goal was to ascertain if the clients knew why they were taking each medication, determine if they were taking them properly, and see if they were storing them correctly. One nice gentleman, Herbert, brought his pills down in a worn-out plastic bag filled with loose pills and old boxes of Tylenol. The pills that were inside of bottles had labels that were worn so that I could barely see the typing.
I explained why I was there and went over his medications with him. He seemed to like me, and was genuinely interested in what I had to say, so I asked him where he kept his medications. He said, “In the medicine cabinet.” I shared with him that the medicine cabinet should be renamed because people should not keep medicine in there. It’s too hot and wet and the medication could lose potency. Which is what I told Herbert. I also told him that the heart medications that he is prescribed are very valuable. Not because he paid a lot of money for them, but because they keep him from having a stroke or worse. “You, sir, are worth taking care of,” I said.
The next year when I went to this same facility, Herbert was there. His blood pressure was a bit lower, and he had lost some weight. He said he had a surprise for me. Instead of a plastic bag, he had a toy treasure chest that held all his medications. He explained that he thought about what I said about the medications being valuable and thought that the treasure chest was a perfect symbol. The medication bottles in that chest were arranged neatly with no stray pills. The labels on the bottles were easy to read, and I could tell by the dates that he was filling his medications. He said he kept that treasure chest in the kitchen.
The point is that he hadn’t noticed before that he wasn’t valuing himself enough to take care of his medications. Once he made that connection, he made a small, but powerful change and signified it with a treasure chest.
The simple act of putting his medications in a place that signified that they have value changed how he perceived them. As a result, Herbert changed how he thought of himself.
I think about Herbert and his treasure chest quite often when I find myself burned out, frazzled, and anxious. I realize that I haven’t treated myself as if I have value. I have forgotten to treasure my mind, body, and spirit.
Signs You Need a Treasure Chest
Maybe this happens to you. You want to take good care of yourself. You know that you should and you really want to. You just get too busy or you forget.
Here are some clues that you’ve done the equivalent of putting your value in a plastic bag with holes in it and how to start valuing yourself again:
Are you sleep-deprived? Your body needs sleep to function properly. Each of us has a different amount of sleep. Some need 9 hours of sleep. What excuses are you using to deprive yourself of this vital element? When you’re tired, don’t drink caffeine or eat sugar to push through. Simply rest or even better, take a little nap. Go to be a bit earlier.
Do you know what you’re actually eating? Do you grab anything off the grocery store aisle that’s convenient? Do you read labels? Food is medicine and should be treated as such. Choose carefully. Eat slowly and with intention. Eat more food that doesn’t come with a long list of ingredients. At least consider what you consume.
Are you neglecting your mental health? Your mind needs tending to. It needs a break from scrolling the socials. Here is an article on the link between Facebook and depression. Your mind needs a break from heartbreaking headlines. Consider reading some good news once a day. Pick up a book on a topic that used to interest you. Even taking a walk outside can do wonders to clear your mind.
Are you disconnected from your spiritual practice? We aren’t doing many gatherings right now or going to museums, but you can still find ways to feed your soul. Meditate, pray, journal, do yoga, or look at beautiful art in a book or on the computer.
Your body does amazing things from turning food into energy that feeds every cell to enduring long workdays. But it’s not a machine. It needs proper care and feeding. Your mind is a wonder in its capacity to create and solve problems. But it’s not a computer. It needs a rest from negativity. Even in challenging times, the human spirit endures and connects us all.
You really are a treasure. Treat yourself as such.