THE BLOG
08/26/2013 06:01 pm ET | Updated Oct 26, 2013

Joy Works

We live in a society of grand gestures. I know a man who wants to buy his wife a car for their 30th wedding anniversary. This is a grand gesture! But most of us don't live in that world. Nor, would I assert, are those the things that would really alter the daily quality of our lives.

I recently saw a long-standing patient of mine, who works her butt off for a big company, which is chronically understaffed. And, not surprisingly, my patient (who is super nice and always wants to help), takes on most of the extra work every time the company is understaffed!

Now, I will admit that things are better for her now than a year ago, when she routinely worked 80 hours per week. Now she "only" (her words, not mine!) works 65 to 70 hours per week. Last year, she routinely skipped lunch. Now she only skips lunch one to two days per week. Last year she almost always worked through dinner. Now she works through dinner only once a week, and is almost always out of the office by 7 or 8 p.m.

She's really good at what she does and enjoys her job (mostly... except for the long hours... and the toll it takes on her overall health, her weight and her blood pressure). She sees me monthly for a weight check (during which I nag her, act as her cheerleader, push her to take better care of herself and discuss tips and techniques to support her in her weight-loss goal), and we got to talking at this most recent visit about small but meaningful ways to do something for herself on a daily basis.

And that got me to thinking. Janet Jackson epitomized the 80s with her question, "What have you done for me lately?" But I would assert that these times call for a different focus. Less external. Less grandiose. Less costly. More meaningful. Possibly even free.

Do you love the outdoors? Take five minutes out of your day and get out there. Love to bake? Carve some time out of the early morning to make it a true "rise" and shine type of day.

Mine's even simpler. I love crossword puzzles, but stopped doing them for years, and just rediscovered them. So every day, after I have put the kids to bed, but before I start my work, I do one. It takes about 15 minutes. Some days I don't have enough time and don't do them. Others I don't have enough time and do them anyway!

Guess what? The work gets done eventually. Most of the time, it's not life or death! So go ahead, do something for yourself today that brings you joy. The work will wait.

And the joy will make the work easier!

For more by Dr. Wendie Trubow, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.