How often do we hear the words “self-care” these days? I remember when I first read those words and like many of my generation, I thought, “What a self-serving bunch of nonsense”. Since that time I’ve come to have a very different opinion. In fact, after a lot of research and experimentation, I’d go so far as to say that if you are struggling in your life, self-care is almost always the way forward.
I won’t drone on about a subject that has already been exhausted but I will say this:
If you are over 40, the chances are good that you just might be overlooking this very important habit for your well being.
At our age, it’s more of a discipline, isn’t it? Most of us are responsible for more now than we’ve ever been in our lives and achieving a balance seems harder than ever. But let me challenge your thinking …….. self-care isn’t all about bubble baths and mani-pedis. It’s about making decisions that are the best for you (and by extension, your loved ones) within your current circumstances. Making choices that are good for your body and for your brain. Because chances are there are a lot of people depending on you, so if you don’t take care of YOU, you really can’t pour anything of much value into those around you (including your spouse and children). So depending on your circumstances self-care will look different for each of us. Of course, it CAN be a mani-pedi or a luxurious bubble bath, but maybe you just need to go to bed earlier…….or drink less alcohol…….or meditate…….or spend more time in prayer…..or stop eating junk……..or start doing a little yoga. These are the sorts of decisions that will truly give you tangible results in the care of yourself and how much you have to give to others.
I’ve shared with you before how I was a mess after Montana. I thought that there would be no better time than before the holidays for me to share a few things that have helped me personally to stop feeling completely worn out and utterly overwhelmed in my daily life.
For me personally, detoxing had a much bigger impact on me than I imagined. I did a 3-day detox and I drank nutritious smoothies, hydrated like crazy but ate next to nothing in the way of solid foods. Also no alcohol or caffeine. I was completely skeptical of the “detox culture” because I am a huge fan of just consuming proper nutrients in good, whole foods. But the results amazed me.
My focus returned! It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you aren’t living in a fog!
My energy levels were definitely elevated and I felt more like myself.
I cut a lot of water weight that was making me look and feel puffy so my clothes fit better.
While my emotions were a bit of a roller coaster on day 2, by day 3 I felt centered and solid. No more wishy-washy feelings.
*I’d go a bit further and say let your detox be a nice, clean slate for you to add back in nutritious foods that are healing and healthy for your body as you move forward(self-care). No need to be super restrictive but eat foods your body was naturally meant to process. Save the sweets & processed stuff for special occasions and celebrations……. and enjoy them.*
Meditation is another thing that I’ve always been skeptical about, but after so many years of Anusara yoga, I thought- what the heck, I’ll drink the kool-aid and form an actual opinion (what a novel idea, right?). There are so many misconceptions about meditation and I won’t bust through many of them here, but I’d describe it more as a discipline. Meditating and clearing your mind is HARD. It’s extremely hard work! But the payoffs of just a few minutes of your day are major! The more you practice, the calmer you are able to be in the face of stress and adversity. For me there’s nothing spiritual here- it is literally disciplining your mind to stop being reactive. It is about changing the tape that you have playing in your head and instead of it being negative, it’s making that tape play something that is actually helpful to you (self-care). If you are someone who struggles with negative thoughts, definitely give meditation a try. There are lots of guided meditation apps- I like The Calm app and I use it every day.
This one is a given, but- move. your. body. Even if you only have 15-20 minutes, TAKE that time for yourself. Just take it (self-care). Go to a class or just find a youtube video you like and move and stretch. We are over 40 and we know we need it, but so many of us put it on the backburner. Don’t. Do. That. Your mobility, balance and muscle strength is steadily decreasing and you’re gonna wanna fight that. Don’t make it about losing weight- make it about taking care of the healthy body you have. ENJOY it. It’s good for your body as well as your mind.
This blog is called “Fresh Air and False Lashes” and I live in Colorado, so you probably expected this one when it comes to self-care. Research shows that the more time we spend in nature, the more we physically change our brains for the better. Shift your mood, strengthen your attention span, and help your emotional responses (via strengthening the amygdala of your brain which is a huge part of your emotional processing). Get outside. If you live in a large city, find some green space in a nearby park to get the benefits, but whatever you do, spend some time each day outdoors in nature. Too cold? Girrrrrrrlll… No, it isn’t. Don’t even talk to me- I lived in Glacier Montana. Bundle up and get out there!
So in a nutshell, self-care shouldn’t be looked at as some sort of indulgence that we have to spend lavishly on. Self-care is really a non-negotiable. Take care of YOU and you’ll have so much more to give to others. You’ll be able to give freely of yourself without resentment to those you love and to those who depend on you…. it’ll be easy like Sunday mornin’. And that feels right.
Struggling? Self-care is most definitely a part of the way forward. Start thinking about adding one or two of these as the holiday’s approach. Your stress will be at a much happier level! Do you do any of these? Do you have something to add? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!
P.S.- Skincare post coming down the pike very soon!