I’ve recently realized that I’ve unintentionally taken the last year and really worked to take care of myself. I’ve spent years focusing on taking care of everyone else: grandparents, parents, children, husband, dogs, clients. etc. Like most women, I was at the bottom of my own list. Things have changed as I’ve gotten older (ok, I’m not THAT old) and I have retooled my priorities a bit and it has made a huge difference in my life.
A year ago, I started going to a weekly yoga and a weekly Pilates class with my daughter. Honestly, both almost killed me in the beginning. I couldn’t walk without pain and I hurt in places I didn’t know I could hurt. Slowly though, I realized the classes made me feel strong, energized, and in control of my own body. I am by no means athletic, and there are still many things I can barely do in those classes, but I keep going. Some weeks I hate it, but I never regret that I went. Even when my daughter is unable to go, I still go, but having her go in the beginning was a great incentive to me.
I started swimming in a lap pool last winter and plan to do it again this winter. I love swimming as exercise, but have to be careful to go not more than once a week because I get a rash from the chemicals in the water.
I’ve walked for years and I continue to do that. In the summer, I also add kayaking to my list of exercise. What has really helped me get daily exercise is learning to think of it not as exercise, but as something fun I like to do. Then I am motivated to keep going.
I am not someone who is big on lotions, potions, creams, gels, makeup, etc. Daily moisturizer with sunscreen in it and some eyeliner and I’m out the door. Lately though, I’ve been trying to add a night cream to my regimen because my face just feels better when I do. And I think that I deserve to have skin that feels nice.
I finally, finally bought an electric toothbrush for myself (everyone else in the house has had them for years) because I was willing to do anything to reduce the problems I have had with my teeth. And I switched from the 90 year old dentist I had gone to all my life to a new dentist that has TVs, blankets and warm wet cloths to wipe your face.
Dumping Bad Doctors
Why am I going to see someone I can’t understand, is nasty to me, or is unpleasant? I shouldn’t be and because of this, I overhauled my doctors and got new ones to replace the bad ones. I don’t dread those appointments anymore and that has made me feel happier.
I started going to acupuncture about 4 months ago when I felt overwhelmed by an undiagnosed health problem. I also had a laundry list of small health things that were nothing huge, but together added up. I was very skeptical about acupuncture and in the beginning did not enjoy it. However, four months later, I can say that it has changed my life. Not only did it reduce pain, help me heal, and overcome some health problems, but it makes me feel fantastic. I feel rested and energized from it.
Aside from the actual acupuncture process itself, I’ve gotten two other big benefits. My acupuncturist is a professor of Oriental medicine and a diplomat in the field. I trust her implicitly and she has suggested herbal and nutritional remedies that have helped me tremendously. Because this is one of those areas where you never quite know if you can believe what you read online, I like having someone with knowledge in this field that I can talk to. She also is skilled in medical massage and has fixed a pulled neck muscle and a sore hip.
The other benefit is more personal. My acupuncture appointment is the one hour a week that is only about me. It is an hour devoted to healing, restoring, and energizing me. It is also a time when I can think and talk holistically about my health and my body. It is all connected and talking to my acupuncturist each week about what is happening in my body has made me feel so much more tuned in to what my body is telling me and how it is reacting to what I put in it. I also find it very important to take the time and have someone focus on ME. Husband, friends, family all love me and care for me, but it is not the same as having someone focus all their energies on your needs in a concentrated way once a week. The entire process feeling healing and uplifting to me.
My acupuncturist referred me to a holistic nutritionist who helped pinpoint some nutritional and mineral deficiencies in my diet and also made some recommendations about foods to cut out. I’ve recently added in some supplements and removed some foods based on those recommendations but it is too early to report if they have helped me.
This year I also decided that I will no longer eat things I don’t like. So this means that if I don’t like the pie at a dinner party, I will not eat it. If I don’t want to eat the crust on my sandwich, I do not. I’m not required to clean my plate or eat to make other people happy and that has been a very freeing decision for me.
I have really been working on saying no. I turned down a book contract because I just wasn’t comfortable with the angle they wanted me to take. I said no to a speaking engagement that I just didn’t want to do. My friend, the brilliant Alisa Bowman, recently told me that I have to stop “should”-ing myself and she’s right, so I’ve really been making an effort to stop doing things I feel I “should” do, but don’t really want to.
As part of my just say no campaign, I’ve made an effort to simply not engage with people who are negative. I don’t want to waste my time or energy dealing with that kind of energy, so I simply do not. This can be hard when some of those people are family members, but I am working at it. I absolutely will not deal with it online in any way.
I’ve started to think “if not now, when?” about a lot of things. We hope to have many years to travel and do the things we enjoy, but the fact is, life is finite. My parents expected to have years after retirement to do these things and my father is now about to undergo a second back surgery after more than a year of having very little mobility. They aren’t even in their 70s. While it is important to plan and save for the future, it is also important that we find joy today, right now, and do the things we enjoy because who knows how long we will have to do them? Because of this, my husband and I are working hard to make room in our lives for fun. We’re saying yes to things we might not have a few years ago, and we are feeling as though we enjoy life much more now.
Many of these changes are things I simply could not have done 10 years ago. There is no way I could have found 3 hours a week for yoga, Pilates, and acupuncture when I had a child in preschool. We also could not have afforded it. I do think that if I could have added even one of these a week to my life back then, it would have helped. But I wasn’t at a place in my life where I was able to focus on caring for myself. I really believe that is something that comes as your life changes and your kids get older. There is simply more time to focus on yourself and you also start to realize that you have the right to make your life into what you want it to be. I’m still learning, but the changes I’ve made in the past year have been so helpful to me.
What do you do for yourself?
I’ve recently realized that I’ve unintentionally taken the last year and really worked to take care of myself. I’ve spent years focusing on taking care of everyone else: grandparents, parents, children, husband, dogs, clients. etc. Like most women, I was at the bottom of my own list. Things have changed as I’ve gotten older (ok, … Read more