Self-care is more than getting your nails done or visiting a spa for a facial. It’s about taking care of yourself totally and intentionally so you can be present for yourself and others. And more women over 40 need to know this.
Just about everywhere you look these days, specifically social media; you’ll come across some mention of self-care. There are certain days people dedicated to it, podcasters advocating it and posts explaining why it’s necessary. Individuals are becoming more aware of what they need to exist effectively, and they are doing something about it. There’s a major self-care movement happening.
The concept isn’t new, but these days, more and more people, especially women, are stressing the importance of practicing self-care. No doubt things are a lot different today than they were twenty or even ten years ago. Women of all ages are taking on more roles and are being more intentional about what they want out of life. And contrary to what some people may believe, taking the time to care for oneself is more of a necessity than a luxury.
But, What Do You Need?
How many times have you forgotten to eat lunch or stayed up way past bedtime to fill the needs of others? Don’t get me wrong, of course; there will be instances where you’ll have to miss a meal or lose a little sleep, especially if you have a family, but don’t make neglecting your needs an ongoing habit. There will be moments when you’ll need to step back to figure out why you keep having tension headaches or why you can’t focus on simple tasks. Don’t feel guilty for placing a priority on your needs sometimes.
Aside from focusing more on what we need from life, ourselves and others, another critical aspect of self-care is dealing with what’s going on in our heads. Although I feel we have a long way to go, I’m happy to see that more women are working to fix their mental health issues.
It’s imperative to understand that preserving and treating mental health is non-negotiable. In light of the suicides that have claimed the lives of a few celebrities recently, we need to take a closer look at why self-care is necessary. The tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both of whom were in their middle years, sparked much-needed conversations.
One of my favorite singers, Phyllis Hyman, ended her life back in 1995. In her departing note, she wrote that she was “tired.” I’m not trying to speculate why they felt the need to take their own lives, but rather to highlight the fact that no matter what your status is, or how much money you have, life happens to all of us–at any age. One thing I know for sure is, some of us have to unlearn feeling ashamed for reaching out to seek professional help.
“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.”
– Deborah Day
Do Enough Women In Midlife Practice Self-Care?
Midlife is a unique period in a woman’s life that is all about transitioning and adjusting. You could have older children that are leaving or have left home for college or work. Maybe you have to figure out your new role as a grandmother. Our parents are aging and will need our help. Not to mention the support we give to our spouses who may be dealing with midlife issues of their own. Many of us still have careers that either we still love or are anticipating leaving for something less demanding but more rewarding. And of course, there are the changes that are happening within and to our bodies. No matter what your situation is, you can’t deny that while this age is great, it can still be hard. If anyone needs to practice self-care, it would be us.
Availability is a must–not only everyone else but also and more importantly to ourselves. I notice that women in midlife don’t talk about self-care as much as younger women do, which makes me wonder if we are even practicing it as we should.
Last year, I had a family member pass away from a sudden heart attack. She was only in her early 60’s, and I can’t help but wonder if it was from the daily stressors of life. The last time I saw her, it was evident that she was overworked and stretched entirely too thin. When you’re stressed, it shows and also negatively affects your body.
I’ve been paying attention to my needs more often. Especially since losing both of my parents. From a very young age, I taught myself to be strong. I used to keep everything bottled up, and that stuck with me for a very long time. In recent years, I came to terms that I couldn’t do that anymore. It was taking a toll on me, mentally and physically. If this is something you find yourself doing, try to make a conscious effort to stop.
I can admit that sometimes, I have concerns about the future. There are days I want to be left alone and don’t feel like being present on social media, or I desperately need a mental health day. Some days I want to watch Frasier reruns or a childhood movie and eat pizza. There are times when self-care means I’m setting limits by replying to requests with a “no.” Often, all I need is to spend quiet time with myself and God.
Some people believe that self-care is selfish and requires you to neglect your responsibilities. Those misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. You can take part in activities such as going to cooking classes, exercising, taking a nap, or getting a makeover, and still be productive in other areas of life. When you are taken care of, you’re better equipped to deal with the many demands life throws your way.
Self-care is something that we need to incorporate into our weekly schedules, and it’s most definitely for middle-aged women.
All the best always and thank you for reading.