May is Women’s Health Month, so if you haven’t done anything to take care of yourself this month, then I ask you to take a moment to stop, breathe and be. My yoga teacher N sometimes reminds us that we are all human beings and that we should spend more time being instead of constantly doing.
Now that I am retired from my full-time corporate job, I am learning to adjust to a more flexible schedule however, I still often feel like I need to be doing rather than being. Maybe it’s because I spent 30-plus years doing taking care of my kids, taking care of my spouse, taking care of my mom, taking care of work, taking care of everyone everyone, everyone, everyone but myself.
Sound familiar? Most boomer girls are great caregivers to others but are not great caregivers to themselves. During the past six years, after losing my spouse, selling my house and emptying out my nest, I’ve tried to make an extra effort to take better care of myself. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
The picture appears on Facebook and my heart catches in my throat. My older daughter is lying down, head resting on the back of a full grown tiger, holding its tail which is curled across her chest. The tiger appears to be sleeping; turns out, she explains later, that I should not have worried as tigers are nocturnal and apparently “more sleepy and laid back during the day.” My question to her: “What if this one had insomnia?”
As I peruse my younger daughter’s Facebook pictures I feel for her as she documents the last few precious months leading up to her college graduation. She and her friends are studying hard and playing hard as they grapple with the huge transition they are about to undergo. It seems like only yesterday that she was riding a pony at her third birthday party.
It never ends. We worry about our kids regardless of their age. We want to take on their pain and ensure their safety. We try to get them to eat right, get enough sleep, do their school work and make it to their doctor/dentist/orthodontist appointments. We’re constantly encouraging them to make healthy choices. If you’re the quintessential helicopter mom like me you actually try to diagnose and treat your kid’s bug bites via Skype from Albany to Malaysia. When we’re not texting the kids we’re bugging the husband to get off the couch and get a much needed health check-up. In our spare time we are keeping an eye on Grandpa. Occasionally we even make our own work a priority.
We moms tend to serve as the caregivers for our families, often putting the needs of our spouses, partners, kids, and parents before our own. This is so prevalent that they created a national observance just to remind us to take care of ourselves!
Mother’s Day began National Women’s Health Week, a week designed to bring attention to the fact that if we don’t take care of ourselves we certainly won’t be effective caregivers for others. This week-long health observance is coordinated by the U.S. department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Women’s Health. It brings together communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups in an effort to promote women’s health. The theme for 2012 is “It’s Your Time.”
The goal of National Women’s Health Week is to empower women to make their health a top priority. It also seeks to inspire women to improve their physical and mental by encouraging them to get regular checkups and preventive screenings; be active; eat healthy; and take mental health into consideration by getting enough sleep, managing stress, and avoiding unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking.
An organized caregiver needs to care for herself too! Try these tips:
- If you go to www.healthinfi.com and search for “Preventive Screenings” you will come to a very helpful interactive screening chart. Enter your age and it will list all of the screenings you should have at this time.
- Take this list to your doctor to discuss what is appropriate for you based on your health history.
- Check with your insurance plan to find out which tests are covered.
Now, as part of May Women’s Health Month, I’m going to share some of my tips with you.
Do Your Daily Exercise:
Every morning I get on my stationary bicycle and pedal away. Now that I am not working, I pedal for 30 minutes. When I was working full-time, I used to pedal for 15 minutes each morning. It’s a great time to catch up on my pile of magazines. Throughout the week, I sprinkle in other forms of exercise like yoga, weight lifting and walking. (During the week, as a special treat to soothe my sore muscles, I get a massage because my friend D is a great masseuse or I take a warm bath with Epsom salts and fragrant lavender oil.)
Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables:
I used to do public relations for V8 Vegetable Juice many years ago and ever since I always try to eat or drink my five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A 100 percent fruit juice, smoothie or piece of fruit for breakfast, blueberries for lunch, salad and more vegetables for dinner. Ooh, ooh, ooh, I should also add my daily serving of dark chocolate covered raisins raisins are a fruit aren’t they?
Take Time to Smell the Roses:
I went to the farmer’s market to get a sweet potato for dinner. On my way to get the sweet potato I stopped in the flower gardens to see all the beautiful flowers. The colors of the flowers were magnificent, truly magnificent. In addition to my sweet potato, I bought a pot of pink flowers and put the pot in front of my house. Now the pretty flowers brighten my day every time I go outside. (Hopefully, I will remember to water my flowers throughout the summer so that they will not die and will continue to brighten my days all summer long.)
Talk to or Listen to Your Friends:
My friends help me celebrate my good times and help me manage my bad times. My friends provide fresh perspectives on caring for my loved ones or thoughtful advice when it comes to making some of my big and little life decisions. Sometimes it’s great to just talk to my friends and have them listen. Yes, I’ve learned that listening is not only a good leadership skill for business but a good friendship skill to develop and share with others.
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