How often do we take care of others? Do we take care of ourselves as well? Self-care is not selfish.
She loves yoga. It clears her mind, offers gentle exercise, and helps her cope with the stresses in her life. Her husband says he needs her and discourages her from attending classes. She feels guilty because she loves him and would rather not upset him. Yet her inner voice tells her: “If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of him when he needs you.” So, she goes to her class.
Taking care of ourselves may be a source of guilt, anxiety and postponement. The house needs cleaning, the garden needs weeding, the children need attention and the elder loved one needs care. How much time is left for us? Not much.
Well I’m here to tell you that taking care of yourself needs to be a priority.
Each of us has our own individual way of taking care of ourselves.
A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. She is an artist, a teacher, a wife and a mother. She loves cooking, but during chemo it was hard for her to eat, much less cook. Often, a cooked meal would show up on her doorstep. Friends provided food, support and prayers. Throughout her ordeal, she continued painting. Her husband said that art was her way of healing. She was taking care of herself by doing what she loved best. The family survived, she went back to teaching after her chemotherapy and I’m happy to report that she is doing very well.
I’ve heard of numerous kinds of self-care. Just taking time out to breathe deeply and clear your mind can work wonders. In yoga, there is a pose of self-compassion. You rest your hands on the heart center, with fingers crossing and thumbs wide and feel the subtle movement of the breath under the hands.
If you’re not into yoga, you could gently tend the garden while tending to yourself, or listen to music. You can maintain your grooming: go to the salon or barber, do your nails, use those wonderful creams and stay in fashion, but keep your own sense of style without being trendy. When you take care of the outside, you feel better on the inside.
You can stay in touch with friends and spend time with positive, cheerful people. Complainers bring you down. You can find something you like and spend time having fun with it, or leave the house and go somewhere you enjoy; a museum, a concert, or just a walk. You could get busy writing about your experiences or anything else.
And of course, if you need time away and are caring for a loved one, AVIDA can provide you with as much or as little time as you need by sending a health care provider to give you time to take care of yourself.