The Secret Woid Is Self-Care

Executive Summary

Everywhere you look, you see people investing so much time in their careers, their families, and their other obligations that they put themselves at risk of physical and mental burnout. I started the Karma Sense Wellness blog (back in the days of L4) with a mission to help people refocus some of their passion back upon themselves. The end goal is to guide the busiest people to be happier, healthier and, oh yeah, save the world.

I recently had the privilege of meeting with the leadership of SafeMinds, an organization that advocates for the health of people with autism as well as for their caregivers. In many ways, our missions coincide. When it comes to caring for a loved one on the autism spectrum, it can be an all-consuming process; a process that plays out at the expense of one’s own well-being.

I was honored when SafeMinds asked that I contribute to their blog. It’s an assignment I take very seriously. So seriously, that for the first post ever I was able to keep it to the 600 word limit they imposed upon me. Not so serious where I didn’t include some of the zaniness you expect.

This collaboration ended up with a blog post that can serve anyone in danger of burn out. I hope you enjoy it.

When I first met with the leadership of SafeMinds and was presented with a SafeMinds “It’s a Ducking Epidemic” duck, it brought a smile to my face as my mind wandered back to the Marx Brothers who were obsessed with ducks (says the guy who was obsessed with the Marx Brothers).

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One way their obsession manifested itself was on a game show that Groucho hosted called You Bet Your Life. At the start of the show, before the contestant came on stage, Groucho Marx would tell the audience a secret word. In the process of playing the game, if the contestant stumbled upon the secret word, a duck would drop from the ceiling and give the contestant $100.

All of this is a very roundabout way for me to tell you, the caregiver of a person with autism, a secret word that I hope you never forget…SELF-CARE.

You’ve probably already heard this from other well-meaning people but I’ll say it anyway (and then duck as you attempt to throw something at me), you can’t take care of someone if you don’t take care of yourself.

I know, this is easy for others to say.  They don’t understand that your life revolves around a situation which makes planning impossible. You can’t set aside time to exercise. A traditional family meal is a luxury. And time to sit quietly, reflect, and meditate? Nope.

It’s been thirty years since I let go of my Marx Brothers fixation (photographs in my office notwithstanding). Most recently I’ve changed the target of my obsession to helping others find ways to care for themselves without compromising their obligations and passion for their families or their careers.

I’ve written a book and many articles that put forth strategies to achieve this balance. There is no single solution for this conundrum that works for everyone. Since I don’t know you personally, I can’t in good conscience tell you what you can and should do. I can come up with some questions you can ask to begin exploring solutions.

  1. You live a life of daily struggle. Do you have five minutes a day to reflect on anything good someone has done for you and the good you’re doing for others? All new age hooey aside, research proves that intentional moments of gratitude and self-affirmation have positive mental and physical benefits.
  2. When you get a chance to eat, are there ways you can make sure you get high-quality protein and some vegetables in every meal? Forget about diets, if you can do this, you are optimizing your nutrition.
  3. If you’re interested in meditating but can’t find time, is there a brief moment during the day that you can take few deep breaths and focus on nothing but the sensation and quality of those breaths? If you can, congratulations, you’re meditating and reaping all of the benefits of the process.

These are just a few ideas. If you want to learn more, feel free to check out my blog at Or reach out to me directly from that site and say the secret word “Self-Care.”   You won’t get $100, but you will get my attention and support as you pursue what’s most important to you.

About Dave “Davey H” Hellman:  Dave is a certified Exercise Nutritionist and a graduate of Duke University’s Integrative Health Coach program. He operates his coaching practice at and is the author of The Karma Sense Eating Plan, a sincere and playful guide to achieving greater health and happiness. He donates all profits from the sale of this book to charities that fight poverty and hunger.

To read the original post, feel free to check out SafeMind’s website.

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