I agree it is extremely important. However, in order to write about it and answer the question, “What do I do?”, I had to reflect.
Self Care is staying on top of YOUR HEALTH! It doesn’t stop there but should start there. I define self care as something you do for you. It must be meaningful for you and bring you joy or a moment of peace.
Take care of yourself, go to the doctor regularly. I know everyone says it. I took my health for granted until a few years back. The last thing I wanted to do with a moment of free time, was go see a doctor for myself. Seriously!! One of the immediate requirements for your loved ones after they move to a new location, is medical care for existing conditions. Because I have had a wonderful physician, it was a natural fit to have him be the primary care for my mom. However, after sitting in appointment after appointment with my mom, the LAST thing I wanted to do was go to the doctor. So I didn’t.
Two noticeable things happened. Two years ago, I tweaked my back while changing sheets. This tweak was debilitating. I could hardly get out of bed or walk. Yes, I went to the doctor. Testing. Medications. Nothing helped. I went to our gym with a heated rehabilitation pool. I started taking a class in the pool twice a week and began yoga. This helped, slowly but surely. Then no more doctor again.
Three months ago, I had a moment where my chest hurt, my arms hurt. I hid away in my room. It happened again. I just stopped. All the obvious things were racing through my mind. Including, “Hey your dad had heart attacks and open heart surgery”! “I have ZERO time for this to be a thing!” It passed and I went on. The third time, my oldest saw me and asked what was wrong. I was carrying laundry (not heavy!). It was worse this time. He brought me an aspirin. I can not tell you how much that action frightened me! I called and made an appointment. So, when “they” tell you to take care of yourself – in the words of Nike, Just Do It! All tests came back, it was not a cardiac event. Chalked up to anxiety. So now that I have impressed upon you how important #1 in self care – your health is, the following are the care acts that I use frequently.
I journal. I use my phone, my computer and physical journals. If it isn’t an entire entry, I can take just the feeling or emotions that are overwhelming me at that moment and put them to paper. Released. Freed from me carrying it around. If I have more time and there is more for me to elaborate, I can. You don’t have to save your writings! Try it, there is something about putting your feelings on paper that allows you to let them go! (or make sense of them)
Sleeping is self care. If you are blessed with this ability – embrace it! I have insomnia. I don’t like the way sleeping pills, prescription and other make me feel. Nightmares or hang overs. No matter where you lay your head, find a way to shut down. Opening a bed made with clean sheets helps me. Low music on a timer and/or essential oils are part of my arsenal.
Naps. “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Isn’t that what ‘they’ always told us when we had new babies? It took me 20 years to embrace this!! Frequently when my mom’s aide is here for the couple hours a week, I finish up my current task, then find my favorite blanket and crash. Power naps are a real thing and can get you through an afternoon/evening of the unknown.
Aromatherapy calms me. I am a scent girl, it can change my whole mood. I have multiple diffusers and candles around the house. Including oils I open for shower steam to absorb and surround me! Love. I recommend that you use the scents you love. Just because a fragrance is labeled “relaxing”, if it makes your stomach flop – it is not relaxing. This is a very personal choice. For me one of my favorite calming aromas is a holiday scent, Holiday Joy by doTerra – yes, year round!
Reading can be escape for me. Currently three books are being digested. Read whatever suits you! For me, two Lenten companions and a beach fiction novel. Prior to Lent, I finished a presidential biography and a Max Lucado. I will admit there are times that I have read the same page multiple times, that is usually when I can put it down and fall to sleep. Note to all you reading – this is for enjoyment – if you don’t enjoy what you are reading…put it down and try something else! There is no test on this reading!!! Can you image your life if you could have put down MacBeth or the Crucible in high school?!! Dreams!! I crack me up!
Music – your choice. I am inundated with other people’s sounds every day. Their music, their television, their voices, barking… Silence is golden. However, when you want to hear sounds you have chosen, put on your headphones and listen to whatever your selections is! Mine is everything… from classical to the 80s to jazz to techno! No judgement here – listen to whatever your soul needs at that moment. Enjoy!!
Cleaning people – obviously an indulgence! Every two weeks no matter how much chaos is going on, we have a reset. By noon the entire house has been cleaned! During times when there wasn’t cash for this extravagance, I cut back on other things so I could still get “some” reset. I had them do just the floors. Or only the bathrooms. Or the master suite. YES – this qualifies under self care for me!
Nail salon. Double win somedays, I can take mom with me and for an hour to an hour and half, Mom and I sit back and get a mani/pedi. Mom, she can chatter away with the ladies and I close my eyes usually. She is safe and engaged. I can relax and breathe. In the end we walk out happy and with beautiful, soft hands & feet!
Something that I hadn’t considered until I reflected, I use my environment as self care. What does that means – aesthetics basically. I rearrange furniture, accessories and change linens (curtains, bedding and kitchen towels). Keeping what I am surrounded by fresh and in season brings me a sense of peace. It can be as simple as putting mums in the planters for fall – ahhh. It allows me to express myself creatively and then enjoy it. I am not always buying, I reuse – I have totes for everything! **Real world update – my mums are dead.
Talk to a friend. Without my family and friends, I would not have made it this far. Honestly, reaching out for help is very difficult, even from my dearest friends. I know that in life everyone has their own struggles and lives, I do not want to burden them with mine. How to know who are your dearest friends? For me, if I am silent and haven’t reached out to them…they call me! There is nothing that they wouldn’t do to help me. Whether it is a chat, a cocktail, a long hug or an hour in church without words, just surrounded by them in silent prayer. If you would do it for them – they most certainly would do it for you. You are not in this life alone!
Anything can be self care, you need to be aware of the moment and embrace it. Knowing that everyone around me has what they need, clean clothes, meals and love – is a sense of peace. Take a deep breath and be aware of that moment. It is a “you” time. It doesn’t need to cost you anything. A run. A bath. A cup of tea, Sitting in the sun…You be you – recharge yourself.
Even if it feels like you are taken for granted, I am here to tell you the people around you, need you. Humans sometimes forget to tell those around them how important you are to them. I will do it – if you are caring for some one, they are grateful for your care, your love, your attention. Thank you.
Don’t forget to take care of you!
Be kind to your body. To your mind. To your feelings. And be even kinder to your beautiful heart.R. M. Drake