When YOU are Last...
Recently, I've had several reminders of the state of our health as a society (locally and beyond). And it all comes down to putting EVERYONE and EVERYTHING first, before ourselves.
Please understand, I'm not blaming anyone. As we discuss in our women's health and lifestyle groups, there's no RIGHT or WRONG when it comes to our HEALTH. And in some cases, there's no easy decisions either.
That said, we need to ensure we're being REAL with ourselves.
As I somewhat eluded to in my previous post I've had several cases of over-committing between our three women's groups. For various reasons such as "I don't have time", "I have to care for a family member", "I can't make it / get there on those nights" we've had some changes in participants. In all cases, I appreciated the heads up and honesty.
Here's the part where I hope to reiterate that I'm not saying anything is "right" or "wrong", but where I hope these ladies are being realistic with themselves...
1) If you can't take 45-minutes every second week for you, you WILL burnout. Aside from the mental and emotional stress while caring for a loved one, the idea that we put someone else first is a wonderful human trait without question. However, if YOUR health is pushed aside, you can't possibly care for that loved one as well as you think;
...In CPR the first thing a rescuer does is ensures his/her own safety before helping the victim.
...On airplanes when the oxygen masks fall, you're instructed to put yours on first before helping someone else
Yet we act in the opposite manner with almost everything else in life, and then question why we don't have more energy, feel pain/discomfort daily, are emotionally drained etc...
Another example is when performing CPR, if a rescuer has the option of trading off with another rescuer while doing compressions, it's recommended. Why? So that you don't exhaust yourself and burnout, which could be disastrous for the victim! By sharing the workload, the victim's chances of survival greatly increases! See where I'm going with this??
2) If you do choose others ahead of yourself, DO NOT beat yourself up about your health.
Anything in life is a trade off. Our health is no different. If you choose a loved one over yourself, 24/7, because you feel that's important - Awesome. Just remember, you're trading energy and giving it to that person rather than yourself. Be sure you don't follow that decision up by the self-bullying regarding your health goals not being met, your energy being low, your weight going up, your lack of sleep etc... Feel good that you made a decision that was important to YOU at that time, and understand that we only have so much to give! (If you do feel this way and choose this option, still refer to point #1)
Reminders for those who put themselves last
Our modern culture makes us believe that "if we can't do it all then we might as well do nothing. In this case, we choose to care for a loved one (for obvious reasons) but then we feel we "can't" commit ANY time to our own well-being because "there's not enough time" or we "don't have the energy". Taking care of yourself doesn't need to be extravagant! So if you chose to put someone else first; here's some quick examples of how you can STILL DO GOOD THINGS FOR YOURSELF...
- Implement a 10-breath meditation into your day a few times per day
- Do a "brain dump" by writing in a journal before bed (however deep or simplistic you want)
- Get some sunshine and fresh air for 5-10min each day (possibly with your loved one you're caring for)
- Take 10min in the mornings to sit with your coffee/tea and read a book, look out the window at the birds, or just sit and do nothing (and enjoy that time).
- Stack habits (as Katy Bowman would say) such as when you pick up the laundry basket, do 10 squats while holding it, stand on one foot while you brush your teeth or when you're putting on your socks in the morning hold a lower body stretch for a minute or so.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle or a board game with your loved one or by yourself
- Incorporate creativity into your days such as painting, drawing, music or other forms of art
-When you do get a small break, go for a short 10-15min walk outside
These are just quick examples and I'm sure you can come up with plenty more!
Modern day humans (in North America for certain) are in the state we're in health wise, BECAUSE we are NOT putting our health as a priority for OURSELVES. It's not selfish to take 10, 20 even 40min each day just for YOU out of the 720min (or more) that you're awake to promote health benefits!! If we manage our own deep health, we can much more easily and effectively care for those in need.