I read an article recently written by a health enthusiast who admitted to letting her health and well-being slip. She was seriously side-lined by the loss of her dear pet and couldn’t seem to give herself that 100% effort she had so easily done in the past. Life’s circumstances had de-railed her from her normal healthy lifestyle and she had to find her way back. Oh, how I could relate with this writer. I am a self-professed health enthusiast, and enjoy reading and learning anything health and fitness related. As obvious from this site, I am passionate about fitness and love learning and sharing healthy tips and news.
However, I have to honestly admit my own health and well-being has not been at the top of my own list for a while. Even though I have shared with you healthy tips, exercises and recipes that I have been participating in, I know I haven’t been operating at 100%. Sometimes I’ve been only at about 70%. It can be quite difficult to put oneself first and so easy to let our schedules, taking care of children, family members, jobs, homes, volunteer commitments and life in general take the front seat while our own health takes that back seat. We know this is not optimal. Especially for the moms out there . . . maybe you have little ones at home so you feel as if you don’t have a minute to yourself. Maybe you are packing and moving homes. Perhaps you are right dab in the middle of the Sandwich Generation, taking care of your own family while also caring for older parents. We know that we can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves first, but it can be a tough balancing act. Self care is not a selfish act. It is necessary for all aspects of our health – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.
Even when we finally get that balancing act worked out, we are eating right, exercising, taking the personal time we need for our sanity, taking care of our spiritual needs, and being our very best selves, life can come at you tipping you far, far, far off balance. That’s where I have been – and am now working toward coming back to my healthy self for 2015.
If you find yourself out of balance, I am with you. I feel for you. I know what it is like to take care of loved ones, to have illness enter your world, death come tear you down, one circumstance hit right after another so you feel like a Weeble that wobbles. Maybe you are back and forth helping care for a loved one or maybe you have been sitting in a hospital room for hours, maybe you just had to bury your sweet pet, or you are overwhelmed with work. When you get back home, having the energy and time to plan and prepare a healthy meal can seem like climbing a mountain. After hours sitting by a bedside, a nice stress-relieving run might be optimal, but in reality, a glass of wine may be all that you can imagine. During these stressful “life” times, comfort food can be oh so relieving. And we know that macaroni and cheese is not the best choice, but sometimes it just makes sense. When things are so out of balance, I can eat emotionally with the best of them. I can also become swallowed up on the couch in a dark room. Neither of these are healthy places to be. During these times we just do the best we can do.
During my recent “life” times, I made the best and healthy decisions I could at the time. I seemed to always have a banana in my purse. I always had my running shoes in my car “just in case”. I tried to take the stairs instead of the elevator in any hospital I was visiting. Reading is very calming to me, so I always had a book. I have never been a fast food eater, but when it is 10 pm and all you’ve had all day is that one banana from your purse, you might have to make the best possible choice at the drive-thru. Sometimes 70% – 90% is all that you can give and it has to be enough.
At my worst part of my “life” times I was deeply grieving my brother’s death and truly just wanted to retreat from any and everyone. The pain was emotional and physical. I can’t tell you how appreciative I was for sweet friends who brought meals to feed my family! Going through the process of putting a healthy meal on the table would have been completely impossible for me at the time.
While I know that we have to listen to our body and definitely give ourselves time to process whatever life event has been thrown our way, grieve, and react to our circumstances, we all also must think of our health and well being. During these times our own self care is more important than ever.
I know that during a life trauma, crisis or emotionally overwhelming stage this sounds completely impossible. I know. However, in a state of crisis you just can’t let yourself continue to stay indefinitely in that comfort zone or unhealthy place. Light will come and you will need to be able to react, climb out of the murk and find your way back to a place of balance and health.
It may require taking baby steps. A walk outside. Preparing one healthy meal. Finding your way back to the gym. I took baby steps getting back to my teaching schedule after the loss of my brother. During my mother’s illness, I still performed small things to help my overall health picture stay somewhat in tact. It was definitely not well-balanced but it was an attempt.
What worked for me may not speak to you. There is no right or wrong way to take care of yourself. It is just doing what you need to do to make sure you can stay healthy in the midst of chaos or coming out of chaos. I found that letting my friends help was huge in allowing me to take care of myself. For me, doing anything was better than nothing as far as activity was concerned. While I might not have the time or energy for a real workout, I could take the stairs or at least stretch my tired musles at the end of the day.
Whatever small steps you can take to get through the day, just know they are worth it. You need it. You are not being selfish to make the effort to take care of yourself, no matter the situation. Whatever may have gotten your health and self care out of balance – whether just falling out of the routine, a life trauma, grief, life change or life stress, be positive with yourself and give yourself time to get back to your best. Baby steps can add up to giant leaps. You can be the Weeble – Just don’t fall down.
As we are two weeks into the new year, I hope you are in a place to either begin or continue putting your health and well-being in the front seat. I am looking forward to getting my own health care and self care back in balance. It is a process to move forward and make positive changes. Regardless of why you may have put yourself on the back burner, I hope you can take this year as a start to put your health back in balance and allow your own self care to be a moving force each day. Baby steps count.
Have you ever let your own well being take a back seat? Are you still out of balance? How did you get back in balance? What is self care for you?
Enjoy your Day!