This post is for you. Yes, you. I know you. While you’re reading this, you have at least three other things going on in your head. If you’re lucky, you may be drinking a cup of coffee. You may have a child on your hip, or you may be at work, sneaking in a little internet time between tasks. You’re probably thinking about what you need to get done today, tonight, this weekend. If you’re organized, you may have a written list. (I applaud you). If you’re like me, you have several lists started on post-it notes; none of which are complete. We have a million things going on. We are exhausted. Mentally and physically. I get it. Being a human is tough.
At this moment, I am planning my five-year old’s birthday party, going through a divorce, recovering from surgery that removed a (benign) lump from my breast, taking care a of a sick two-year old, working full-time, managing my sad financial situation, keeping my house from not falling apart, and oh, yeah, trying to keep it together and not completely lose my sh*t.
Then I got a wake up call.
I have been told by several doctors in the past few months that my blood pressure was high. Sure, I heard them, but whatever, I had other things to worry about. Not to mention, I don’t have a family history of high blood pressure, I’m a healthy weight, I run 15 miles a week, and have a low sodium diet. There were no real major red flag risks.
My wake up call happened last Friday when I was at a doctor’s appointment and my resting blood pressure was 140 over 110. If you aren’t familiar with blood pressure numbers, that’s pretty high. He took it again. It was similar to the first reading. He took it again. You see where I’m going with this. My doctor said it was time to do something. He did not prescribe medication because I’ve been seeing him for years and he knows that my “normal” blood pressure is not high. He believes it’s situational high blood pressure. Um. Ok Doctor. But this “situation” is also know as “my life.” So what do I do? To be honest, I don’t really have an answer. I will tell you this though – one phrase has taken on a new meaning to me recently: One step at a time.
One. Step. At. A. Time.
I gotta be honest with you, I used to hate when people said this to me. Because as I nodded and said “yeah I know, I know,” in my head I was screaming, “But I don’t WANT to take it ‘one step at a time’! I want things in order and figured out and planned and settled NOW!” I am not a patient person. I am a planner. And I want things done NOW.
But guess what? I can’t control everything. Everything in my life is not going to be settled now. So, I have no choice but to take things one step at a time. And once I have begun to accept that, things don’t seem so overwhelming.
So I’m working on it. And I will continue to work on it. I’m prioritizing things, and doing what I can, one step at a time. It’s not easy. I still lose my sh*t. But I’m making an effort. Because I have to.
And this is my plea to you (because I know you can relate). Take care of yourself. Do it for your children, your family, everyone who loves you. Do it for you. Do it because you HAVE to. Without your mental health and/or physical health, you won’t be able to take care of anything or anyone else. So take care of you. Please.
One thought on “It’s Time To Take Care of You”
This is the first thing that came up on my Facebook newsfeed this morning, but one that I waited this late to reply on, because I wanted to get my thoughts all in one place first. It has been a crazy May for me as well, though for different reasons than yours.
I’m like the male equivalent of a mother hen (father hen?) — I excel at taking care of everyone I know (and those whom I don’t), but self-care doesn’t come easy for me. Maybe I’ll be a work in progress for my entire life, we’ll see how it turns out.
But I agree — at least some amount, even if it is just the basic amount (if there is a measuring scale for that) of self-care needs to be there.
In my case, a daily meditation practice helps immensely, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Also, if you remember my old comment regarding running without music, that transforms my runs (even the ugliest ones) into meditative experiences, rife with lessons galore.
Having been through experiences similar to the ones you listed in your write-up, I can personally vouch for two books that might help. The following quotation is from the first one, “Taking the leap”, by Pema Chodron, which is on healing through changes while not allowing the hardships shut our hearts off:
“I’ve known many people who have spent years exercising daily, getting massages, doing yoga, faithfully following one food or vitamin regimen after another, pursuing spiritual teachers and different styles of meditation, all in the name of taking care of themselves. Then something bad happens to them and all those years don’t seem to have added up to the inner strength and kindness for themselves that they need to relate with what’s happening. And they don’t add up to being able to help other people or the environment.
When taking care of ourselves is all about me, it never gets at the unshakable tenderness and confidence that we’ll need when everything falls apart. When we start to develop ‘maitri’ for ourselves, unconditional acceptance of ourselves, then we’re really taking care of ourselves in a way that pays off. We feel more at home with our own bodies and minds and more at home in the world. As our kindness for ourselves grows, so does our kindness for other people.”
The other book is “When things fall apart” (the title is pretty self-explanatory).
Hang in there, and maybe you’ll end up being the trendsetter in your family when it comes to blood pressure readings. I am genetically predisposed to a laundry list of late-life health issues, but I’ll be damned if I let them catch up to me any time soon. Maybe we can both “outrun” ours? 🙂 🙏