Sometimes I wonder how I got it all done. When my 2 children, now grown, were teens, we lived in the ‘burbs, I worked in the city and had an ailing mother who was legally blind and slipping into mild dementia while still living independently. Well, sort of. She lived alone but needed someone to check on her pills, do her shopping, get her to medical appointments and help her with home maintenance. You might guess who the point person was for these things....yes, her daughter.
Midlife is an interesting time where there’s a convergence of several life events - kids who need your time and supervision, parents who may be needing help, mid- or advanced level career demands, and a somewhat less than resilient body and energy level to make it all work. Oh, and did I mention peri- or full on menopause?
We manage to get most of it done, sometimes with no sense of completion because we may think about the things we didn’t get done yet. But sometimes the cost of getting it done shows up in our health.
By midlife, we no longer have the limitless energy of youth. If you are constantly feeding and nurturing others, metaphorically “emptying your bucket” with little or nothing going back in, you set yourself up for a potential health crisis.
I was on track for some health issues by my late forties. I was relying on bagels in the morning, a quick lunch and a 4 o’clock trip to the vending machine to get me through the workday. Then I went to my other job - kids, homework, dinner, and mother check-in before I dropped into bed.
We all face challenges in life. We just need to remember that our health and happiness matter for personal reasons and for the good of all we are caring for. It is never selfish to take care of yourself.
My turning point came when I made a career change to the work I do today. I learned about nutrition, stress management and lifestyle balance. It is fulfilling and satisfying to help adults at mid-life learn that their health matters. It is so rewarding to see changes in people’s lives. Being a health and nutrition coach helps my health too. Teaching others self-care and ignoring my own would make me a fraud, and I choose to be authentic and practice what I preach.
Some of the things I have learned about self-care:
- it’s not wrong to care for yourself; it is your right and responsibility to yourself and to your community
- the attitude we bring into every action impacts its effect on our health
- it’s okay and important to set limits
- it’s okay to ask for help
- when I eat simple whole foods I feel balanced and am rarely hungry
- it’s perfectly fine to rest when I need to
- my children and now grandchildren watch and learn about self-care from their elders - what do I want them to learn from my actions?
If you are feeling overwhelmed, see which of these self-care issues need attention. How can you make life better for yourself?