As a fellow Baby Boomer, I want to talk to you about something that’s close to my awareness this issue. As we, the Baby Boomers, begin to delve deeper into the position of caregiver to our parents, caregiver to health challenged family members and for the most part getting our children and grandchildren headed in the right direction, we forget an important piece to making this equation really work for us. Our own self-care is the piece we inevitably push to the back of our minds.
The role of children taking care of parents and spouses taking care of spouses during the transition into older age is all around me. The importance of self-care is so vital to our being that I am still sometimes awe struck at how many people bypass their own needs to care for someone else.
Those of us who have been living more holistically for a large part of our adult life are getting the point, but even we are being hit in the gut and feel the need to escape for self-preservation. On the other hand, I believe the majority of our Baby Boomer population is in denial as to their vulnerability. We are struggling trying to take care of our work load as employer/employee, our primary household duties, take care of the aging parent, wherever they may be, take care of grandchildren and sometimes children. We believe we can do it all without paying any attention to our body signals. The more we put on our “plate” the less we pay attention to what it going on with our bodies.
Your body cries out for you to appreciate and take care of it. You may notice you are getting more headaches. You may not sleep through the night as you once did. You may be gaining weight. Your stomach may have begun to give you problems, because your digestive system is out of sync. You may lack energy where previously you were full of vim and vigor. You are eating and living on the run.
To make matters even worse you are now fast approaching the holiday season. The holidays in many cases compound the challenges and roles you are trying to juggle. You may have lost a loved one during this time of the year. You may have lost a loved one this year. You know getting together with family can cause dysfunction to your otherwise peaceful existence. To top it off, it’s your turn to prepare the holiday dinners, as you juggle shopping for presents and planning parties. Why are your nerves in an uproar … again?
That being said, it is even more important to get in the game of self-care. I do want to emphasize that self-care always has the same level of importance no matter what the season.
One easy and highly effective body relaxer you can utilize on the spot is BREATH WORK. Doing breathing exercises allows the heart to slow down to a more normal rate. The heart is the connector to the Creator and true essence of who you are. As the heart slows down the emotions come under the control of that true essence.
To begin, inhale to the count of eight, hold for two counts then exhale to the count of eight. As you exhale see the tension of the moment become a little less important. And feel your body become more relaxed. The tension between your shoulders releasing is a good indicator of the body relaxing. Do this four times. DO NOT rush this moment.
Another important and highly effective method is VISUALIZATION. If your imagination is very active you may be able do this on the spot. It may however be necessary for you to slip away for ten to fifteen minutes into a quiet place. Don’t forget to lock the door!
Think of something that is beautiful, brings you peace and puts an immediate smile on your face. For example, if you have been to an island and remember the beach with the sun setting over the water, you know what I am talking about. Use this point of reference. If you remember hearing the water lap onto the shore with a gentle touch, which is also relaxing, you may want to use this visual.
If you like the mountains and you remember the quiet as the day turns into night when you took a moment on the balcony or you hear the crickets singing in the background lulling you into relaxation, then use this reference.
If you have a photograph that conjures up relaxation and beauty for you, use it in your mind’s eye for your place of escape.
I believe you are beginning to get the idea of what I am talking about.
After completing one of these, take a moment to feel the power of your true essence. Embrace and honor that truth knowing that you are in control of your being and nothing outside of yourself has any power over you or the divine in you. At the end of this exercise you will feel totally relaxed and reconnected with your inner strength.
The purpose of course is to regain control over your emotions taking back your power. Only you are responsible for what you feel. Refuse to let anyone or anything steal your peace and comfort.
As a side note, please do not entertain guilt. You may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but you know within your heart of hearts you love those in your inner circle. And you show them that love whenever you can, but you must show yourself love first. If they truly love you, they will understand. If they don’t, they will one day, is the attitude you hopefully will take. You are as important as anyone else and that guilt feeling will go away eventually.
Always remember, Self-Care is health and life℠. Have a wonderful Holiday Season!