It was a Saturday morning, around 8:30 am, and I was awakened by the telephone. I remember this clearly even though it was 14 years ago. It was literally a wake-up call.
The call came from my mother's neurologist. After answering questions about my mother's care, he told me to get up and go outside; it was a beautiful day. He must have recognized from my voice that I was still in bed. I was feeling sad and lethargic, and I really did need to get outside into the fresh air and sun. I needed "me time" in order to be fully present for my mom.
Many of us can use a wake-up call to motivate us to take care of ourselves. At a party Saturday night, I talked with one friend who said she has been working so much that she hasn't exercised nearly enough. Another friend said she realizes that she has not been taking care of herself as she has focused her attention on her aging parents. I hear the same comments from parents of young children.
The thing is, if we don't take care of ourselves, we do not have the capacity to care for others. While we may think we are sacrificing for our families and our co-workers, we actually are not our best selves. We also are not modeling positive ways of being for our children.
So what will you do to take care of yourself? Start with one small behavior. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Get outside and take a walk/jog/bike ride, even if it is short
- Find an exercise, stop smoking or cut back on drinking buddy
- Set aside quiet time each day for meditation, prayer, or to write in your journal
- Join our Writing Down Dementia writing workshop for people who have or had a loved one with dementia
- Do something creative each day: write, draw, play a musical instrument, dance
If you live near Lafayette, LA, I will be showing an inspirational documentary film, Coming Back to the Hoop. After the film I will lead a discussion to explore the film's subtitle, "It's never too late to take your best shot." Please let me know if you are interested in being included.