If you are like I am, this is a familiar scenario: too often, I put everyone and everything before myself—taking care of work issues, family issues, house issues, pet issues. If any time remains before collapsing into bed, I might read for a few minutes or look at a catalog or magazine. Then lights out to get the needed sleep to do it all again, tomorrow. Some days I just can’t get even mildly excited about tackling my to-do list. The good news is I have learned a way to create an almost instant (30 minutes needed) attitude adjustment. Good research backs up this mental health self-care, and so I offer it to you here.
If I take thirty minutes early in the day, or when I feel spent in the middle of the day, stop what I’m doing, and change gears to do self-care–something for myself that truly fills me up, not a chore I “need” to do, I feel like a new woman. My entire demeanor and outlook shift, and I am renewed. I have tried accomplishing this in fifteen minutes but, as the research confirms, we need about thirty minutes. An hour works even better, but who often has an hour to spare!
The key to the effectiveness of this self-care break comes from choosing something that you find enjoyable. For me, I indulge in pleasure reading since I do so much work-related reading as a gerontologist. Coupled with diving into the latest historical novel– for those of us whose life even in Covid consists of being in constant motion– taking a moment to sit still can double the effect. This gives our body time to reset and recalibrate. We know the benefits of having a lie-down, as my grandmother called it, or a power nap as we say today. We get up refreshed. Relaxing to soothing music will do the same thing.
If you sit for a good portion of your day, do something active but something that brings you happiness. Create a fresh flower arrangement or plant a few zinnias in the garden or a pot. Only your imagination and passion will limit you. If you have several passions, make a list of those things that bring your heart joy and make you feel alive. Let your intuition guide you to what would fill you up on any particular day.
As I have gotten older, I find if I do my self-care activities first thing in the morning, I seem to have much more energy to get through my to-do list and not feel drained at the end of the day. Sometimes that doesn’t work out. Then I look at my schedule and mark down time for me during the day. I write it in just like any other appointment. It means making oneself a priority. That proves especially hard for women, but I have seen the manifold rewards for myself and my clients and friends who put self-care time into their days.
In reality, doing this becomes a necessity for many of us at mid-life and beyond. Why self-care is important after menopause? Because in postmenopause we lose our protective armor of hormones—those wonderful chemicals that allowed us to mimic the Energizer Bunny when we could sleep five minutes, get up and go full-speed for hours. For older adults, women and men, calling timeout for thirty minutes is the pause that refreshes.
Schedule some ME time for a few weeks and see if you notice a shift in your energy level and your mood. Please let me know how it works for you. I would love to hear your story.
Until next time…Be Vibrant!