Sunday, March 08, 2015

Self Care Work Shop

It has a very long time since I slept so well and felt so rested in the morning. I believe it is the result of attending the Self Care Work Shop at my old Alma Mater at Drexel yesterday. I took my mother with me because she has been caretaking my uncle Gene who is in a nursing home for Demetria and it has taken a toll on her overall physical and emotional health. It was not until I was in the middle of the work shop that I realized how good it was for me as well as I have been wrapped as tight as a ball and had been experiencing symptoms related to stress such as irritable bowl, high blood pressure, increase in heart rate, headaches, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain and insomnia. The symptoms have been creeping up and I have been addressing each symptom with Advil, acid reducers, green tea and hot showers. I never stopped long enough to realize the symptoms were all a result of stress and my inability to recognize or reduce it. I have some coping skills that I use such as writing, reading, warm baths, future pacing such as planning my next vacation. What I learned yesterday was coping skills are used after you find yourself stressed however how do you take care of your self so that the stress is prevented from the start. I never thought of it that way.

It comes down to taking care of yourself every day and not waiting until you are stressed out or burnt out. Yesterday, we took Art, exercise and dance classes, seminars on deep breathing and classes on nutrition and yoga. We had a wonderful breakfast and lunch provided by the university. There were nurses who took our blood pressure and Massage Therapists who gave massages. Best of all, it gave me the motivation to begin my own daily self care plan. Losing a few pounds would be great however losing weight is not my intent. As a matter of fact, I learned yesterday that most of those so-called diets out there are not only unhealthy they do not sustain weight loss or overall good health. I learned yesterday that proper food choices is the key to long term weight loss and overall good health. The nutritionist told us you are not suppose to starve yourself or work yourself to death in a gym. As a matter of fact, she suggested you front load your breakfast with protein (eggs, yogurt, salmon) add a whole grain (what toast, oatmeal) exchange fruit juices for the whole fruit )banana, orange, apple, berries). She suggested a healthy snack mid-morning (peanut butter and apple) then lunch (protein, grain, veggies, fruits) mid-day snack (hummus and pita) and dinner (protein, grain, veggies, fruits) even treat self to a sweet. She suggested making your own trail mix which should be one grain, one protein and sweet( cheerios, beans, sunflower seeds, dried fruit or chocolate chips). She suggested smoothies for desserts.

As far as exercise, you should get at least 30 mins of exercise everyday for good health and if you want to lose weight increase it to one hour. The best part of this exercise regiment is you should break it down into 10 min intervals throughout the day instead of all at once. Marching, side steps, stairs, swats, walks can be all done throughout the day without a gym. Who cannot manage 10 mins at a time throughout the day. I always thought I needed to go to a gym and workout for hours. I also thought I needed one of those diets where you have to lose ten pounds a week. Yesterday, I was taught by an expert that the latter is not only unhealthy but unrealistic as it does not sustain overall weight loss or health.

Art in any form is a great way to take care of yourself and it comes in the form of drawing, writing, photography, music, gardening. It is about creating something. I like to write and garden. My husband likes photography and music. I think we are both covered in the Art forms.

Dance. It is not only fun and a great way to use muscles you thought you never had but it is good for those who struggle with anxiety and depression. There is a new thing out in Philadelphia called Dancing the Blues Away and it is learning dance steps to blues music which I learned yesterday. What a blast we had.

Yoga, massages, deep breathing should be a regular part of daily living which means one should not wait until they are stressed out before using these techniques. It was a great work shop and since I am one of those people who likes to learn things and incorporate them into my daily life or as Bill tells me "I am always evolving". I came up with my own self care plan as followed;
  • Writing each morning before I start my day so I guess you will see more blog entries.
  • Ten min exercises throughout the day starting when I arise in the morning.
  • Taking lunch away from my desk no matter how busy I am then taking a short 15 min walk to clear the cobwebs of stress out of my head.
  • I always eat cheerios and a banana for breakfast everyday and a mid- morning clementine at 10am, generally a salad with beans in it for protein at lunch however I need to cut down on the sweet snacks as I love chocolate and pie. I also need to cut down on the wine. I generally always have a glass of wine with dinner and dessert afterwards. I do not drink soda or fruit juices and I drink at least 48 ounces of water a day so I am good with that practice.  I have two cups of coffee in the morning but I never use sugar on anything. I drink a cup of green tea in the evening of course without sugar.
  • I want to start walking more in the evenings. I always read so I am good with that.
  • With the nicer weather coming back I know my weekends will be filled with genealogy research a.k.a walking in cemeteries, hiking, photographing and of course when we open the beach house I will be back to bike riding and swimming.
  • Making a point to get manicures every two weeks and a pedicure once a month. No. I will never get "fake nails" but I will get my own nails polished.
  • Taking a vacation every three months as oppose to every six months. Currently, Bill and I plan vacations in the month of April and October. April is usually a "fly" destination and October is "road trip" destination. I think we will incorporate two long weekends too.
The stress in my life is not going to go away anytime soon however maybe if I incorporate what I learned yesterday I can avoid the consequences of constant stress as my blood pressure has been running high and that is a huge red flag for me as I suffered a TIA a year ago. I have a very stressful job and the last four years of my personal life has been unimaginable. My goal is to "do better" and "be better". And true to form, I always like to share what I learn.

1 comment:

Pam said...

This is amazing to me. To start, in my counseling session yesterday I talked about needing to carve out "me" time. Even though I am not working, and I am very organized, I do not have a daily plan or schedule. Like you, I have some things covered (water, reading, daily tasks, dance, etc.). I don't want to regiment my life so badly that I leave no time for impromptu events, BUT I need more self-care. A lot more. I don't do it enough. I get bogged down and overwhelmed with the to-do list, and then I do nothing. Or I do so much, that by the time the kids get home I am so tired I can barely give them the time they need from me. Thanks for this post. The workshops sound amazing, and your insight gives me food for thought.