Are you taking care of yourself?
I don’t mean just exercising and eating right – although those are truly important to your health and wellbeing.
I also mean “self-care” activities that too many busy mature adults shrug off as self-indulgent, selfish or just not as important as “caring” for others.
Things like managing stress, getting enough sleep, and participating in activities you enjoy.
“Self-care in essence is the mindful taking of time to pay attention to you, not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that ensures that you are being cared for by you,” says Maria Baratta, a clinical social worker and PhD who writes for Psychology Today.
I like to think of the way flight attendants tell airline passengers – in the event of an in-flight emergency – to secure their own oxygen masks first before helping someone else, even a child.
The message is clear: If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be of any use to others.
For many over 50, you’ve spent a lifetime caring for others, like children and grandkids. The holidays trigger our tendencies to think and do for others sometimes at our own expense.
But with a little planning, we can make sure we fulfill all our family and social duties while also taking care of ourselves.
Five Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care after 50
No. 1: Get outside
Especially this year during the pandemic and spending more time inside, we need to make an effort to get out of the house sometimes. So do it – make that effort!
Go for a hike. Give the dog a longer walk. Take up walking, jogging and biking on local trails. Enjoy golf, tennis and other outdoor sports – even those that involve snow or winter weather.
Nothing feels as good as sunshine and fresh air!
No. 2: Do something you enjoy – just because you enjoy it
Now, I’m not talking about a TV binge of old “Bachelorette” seasons. It’s important to have hobbies and interests outside of our care-giving role, even if they don’t benefit someone else in an obvious way.
For instance, play music, read books, meditate, or go to the gym.
No. 3: Plan your holiday activities
It’s so easy to be overwhelmed sometime around Thanksgiving, when we realize that we’ve over-committed. Too many meals, visits, phone and Zoom calls, etc., pile up before we know it.
So, this year, schedule an hour or so in early November to sit down with a calendar. Add all the family and social commitments, shopping dates and deadlines – and the days you will exercise, what you will do on them, and any special plans you need to ensure follow-through.
Then, remember this…
No. 4: It’s OK to say ‘No’
You don’t have to do everything someone asks or expects. You can even change your mind.
No. 5: Yep – Eat right and exercise
Plan it out on your calendar. Let anyone know who might be affected. Seek support and accountability from friends, workout partners, a trainer or me.
You will be tempted to “let it go” from time to time over the coming weeks, but stay true to yourself, your goals, your health – and yes, your self-care.
You’ll thank yourself every day.
You can download a free infographic to help you stay on track with your self-care goals during busy times, too!