How To Make Your Problems Disappear

BY Eileen Z. Fuentes (@EileenZFuentes)

Clock Tower - Washington Heights

A short time ago, I came across a video of Michelle Obama’s extremely early morning workout routine. It immediately triggered a curiosity in me that I could not ignore. This curiosity forced me to take a closer look at my morning ritual and it seriously needed some revamping. Every morning consisted of last-minute uncoordinated running around, lots of yelling and tons of exhaustion.

Within a week, I canceled my more-than-twenty-year membership to a gym that I had totally outgrown and got a new one that was much closer to my home and offered a lot more bang for my buck. For signing up, I was offered a free session with a trainer. During our scheduled appointment, he asked me what I did for a living and I answered but he wanted details. I explained to him that I am a patient navigator at Columbia University’s Cancer center and mentioned two patients in particular who I was working with and that were given a very poor prognosis. It was at this point that he asked me to climb on the stair stepper. All I remember is him pressing the up arrow button over and over again. When I finally reached the point where I was about to pass out, he stopped the machine abruptly and asked me if at any point I thought about these women, then he said, “this is why you need to do this workout regularly”. He reminded me that I should use this time to not think about other people’s problems or my own… in that instant, the POWER HOUR was officially born.

That night I laid out my exercise clothes, prepped the coffee pot in advance, and set the alarm for 4:30am. It takes me 15 minutes to get ready and by 5am, my power hour begins. I purposely push myself to the limit simply because I know that it will take me away from my thoughts. Upon returning home from the gym at 6am, I walk my dog and then prepare a healthy breakfast and lunch to take to work.

Experts say that habits take 21 days to go from temporary to permanent, and just this week, I hit that target. My mornings are so much smoother and my days are much more productive. I love my new job but I am realizing the importance of disconnecting from it. I deal with real people whose lives are in crisis and it’s critical that I practice self-care regularly.

Read more: How To Make Your Problems Disappear

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