“Self-Care” – Wisdom Discovered Among the Papers of a Beloved Parent

Parting Counsel from a 97-Year-Old Physician-Psychiatrist, Sport Psychologist

Recently, I shared reflections of my father-in-law’s last 13 days before his passing at 97 – a long, loved life dedicated to improving people’s lives by focusing on their emotional and physical wellbeing.  Burt Giges, MD, was a gifted physician and therapist, inspiring teacher and beloved husband, father and grandfather. One of the complex tasks of children – albeit adults – is to sort through the deceased’s papers, photos and possessions.  In this sad task, many gems – treasures –were found.

Throughout the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Burt remained engaged with students and colleagues. He taught by Zoom and held a Springfield College ID that was current through the last year of his life.  When a department colleague mentioned their impending retirement, My father-in-law at age 97, said he might retire in May 2022. Although Burt did not make it to his target retirement date, he dedicated much of his life to enjoying close relationships with his students – future therapists dedicated to supporting competitive athletes to achieve their fullest potential. 

Among Burt’s papers, this typed note to his graduate students was found focusing on “self-care.” Burt, a dual-board certified internist (infectious disease specialist) and psychiatrist, author and gifted speaker, was interested in why illness – mental or physical – exists and how people can intervene to prevent despair and disease.  Here are his wise words left to us:


“Graduate students have many calls for their attention and energy.  When self-care is viewed as an alternative to working, a dichotomy is created that presents the dilemma.  ‘Either I attend to myself or I attend to work.”  If the concept of self-care were broadened to include devoting my energy to attend to all my needs, wants, thoughts and feelings, the either/or dilemma might recede.

“Here’s how that would work:

“in my daily life, it is important to me to take care of my physical needs (exercise, nutrition, relaxation), psychological needs (self-worth, self-acceptance, autonomy, etc.), and social needs (relationships).  It is also important to me to have enjoyment and fun, as well as to feel good about myself and satisfied with the work that I do.

“When I devote time and effort to any of these elements, it counts as taking care of myself. Therefore, when I decide to work, I am taking care of myself by feeling the satisfaction of work well done.

“How much time and energy are devoted to each element is a decision that will vary with the circumstances.  Choosing an activity that is fun is not self-sacrificing the quality of work; it is attending to another need.  Allowing your choice to attend to any of the needs or wants is an important aspect of healthy adjustment.  It does require a non-judgmental perspective to enable free movement from one choice to the next.

“So my advice to students is to include them all.  Then, all you need to do is decide how much of each is enough for now.”

(signed) Burt Giges


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Gil Bashe, Medika Life Editor
Gil Bashe, Medika Life Editor
Health advocate connecting the dots to transform biopharma, digital health and healthcare innovation | Managing Partner, Chair Global Health FINN Partners | MM&M Top 50 Health Influencer | Top 10 Innovation Catalyst. Gil is Medika Life editor-in-chief and an author for the platform’s EcoHealth and Health Opinion and Policy sections. Gil also hosts the HealthcareNOW Radio show Healthunabashed, writes for Health Tech World, and is a member of the BeingWell team on Medium.


Editor in Chief, Medika Life

Meet the Medika Life editor-in-chief, working closely with founding editors Robert Turner and Jeff Livingston, MD.

Not your usual health-industry executive, Gil Bashe has had a unique career shaped by more than three decades in health policy, pharma, life science, digital health, eco-health, environmental innovation and venture capital and informed his determination to ‘give back.’

A champion for health innovation that sustains people’s lives and improves their care, Gil honed his perspectives on both battlefield and boardroom. He started in health as a combat medic in an elite military unit. He went on to serve as a clergyman tending to the ill; as a health products industry lobbyist in environmental affairs; as CEO of one of the world’s largest integrated health marketing companies; as a principal in a private equity-backed venture; as a Medika Life author and Health Tech World correspondent; and as Chair Global Health and Purpose at FINN Partners, a community of purpose dedicated to making a difference.

In the forefront of change, Gil is ranked as a Top 10 Digital Health Influencer; Medical Marketing & Media Top 10 Innovation Catalyst; Medika Life named him a “Top 50 Global Healthcare Influencer,” and PM360 presented him with its “Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award.” He is a board member for digital health companies and is an advisor to the CNS Summit, Galien Foundation, Let’s Win for Pancreatic Cancer, Marfan Foundation and other health-centered organizations.





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