By Lisa J. Shultz
The holidays add an extra layer of work and things to do for me as I take care of my mom and host dinners and events for my daughters and visiting family. I enjoy many aspects of the festivities of December but when January arrives, I crave rest. And after the New Year begins, I also feel the urge to recharge my batteries with self-care.
I will share my favorite ways that help me feel alive and healthy. Perhaps an item on this list will spark an idea or nudge you into a self-care action or recommitment.
Reconnect with Myself: I love getting the chance to see family and friends who can only visit during the holidays, but once they’ve gone home, I need some me time.
Healing Arts: Schedule a massage, acupuncture session or other practice that addresses the body. It can be hard to make time for this during the busy holiday season so it’s good to get back to self-nurture. My past profession in physical therapy taught me the importance of therapeutic touch.
Sleep: I value and dedicate myself to good sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, consider a cup of tea, listening to soothing music or taking a nap in the day if you are tired.
Healthy Food and Plenty of Water: I may occasionally grab a comfort food such as one of my favorites-macaroni and cheese but I select as many healthy foods as possible each day and lots of water.
Exercise: In addition to dancing, I do some form of movement and exercise each day. I walk when weather permits and visit a recreation center regularly. Yoga is particularly helpful. I like to attend a class but there are many home yoga programs that can be found on YouTube. Even 15-30 minutes can help dissipate a stressful day and keep my body in shape.
Take a Class or Workshop: Start the new year learning something new through an art class or a workshop in a subject matter that is of interest to you.
Comedy: Laughing is an elixir for balance. I sometimes watch a comedian on YouTube, or read a humorous book, watch a funny movie, or even attend a standup comedy night or theater production.
Nature: Sitting, walking or hiking in nature is rejuvenating. When I focus on the sounds, smells and the sights of the outdoors, I feel healing and solace.
Declutter: I’ve recently written a new book titled, “Lighter Living: Declutter. Organize. Simplify.” The new year is a perfect time to be “out with the old” and to take the time to look at why it’s time to let go of some possessions.
Support Groups: I have three friends that are also in the midst of caring for aging parents and we get together regularly and have a text group set up for support. I also belong to a Facebook Support Group for caregivers of aging parents. A personal therapist or grief counselor can also be employed. Taking care of myself doesn’t have to be solo.
Connect to a Higher Power: Pray, meditate, attend a service or group, read a spiritual book or go on a retreat. Spiritual connection provides me with strength and support during difficult times.
If you live far away or have a circumstance where a sibling or relative is in a caregiving or management role, encourage and support that person to the best of your ability. Acknowledgment of the toll of stress and strain can help lessen resentment of the person carrying a heavier role in responsibilities.
Finally, I must remind myself that the caregiving circumstance will eventually pass. I believe that unpaid roles such as parenting and caregiving are important and valuable. Each day I have a new opportunity to do my best for a special person in my life. As I replenish myself, I have more to give to my mom. It can be challenging to carve out self-care, but the rewards are worth it!
Lisa J. Shultz, author of A Chance to Say Goodbye: Reflections on Losing a Parent and Lighter Living: Declutter. Organize. Simplify.
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