Food and eating are both hot button issues in our current social climate. Between diet culture, increased nutritional knowledge, and increasingly globalized food choices, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to eat. Enter my April self-care challenge: eating for self-care.
There will be some modifications to this challenge for primarily tube fed individuals included later on. I could not figure out how to include people on TPN, and I do apologize for that.
Every single body is different. Even if we all ate exactly the same things, exercised exactly the same ways for the same amount of time, and slept the same amount every single night, we would still all be different sizes and shapes! If we did everything the same, some of us would be very ill, some would feel amazing, and the rest would be somewhere in between. Why? Because no two bodies have the same requirements.
It’s officially spring here in the northern hemisphere! The days are getting longer and warmer, and life is starting to wake up from its winter slumber. Spring is my favorite season, and always has been. It might be because I’m a March baby, but there’s something so pleasant about the gentle, warm days and the smell of blooming flowers!
Winter officially lasts from mid-December until mid-March, even though “winter weather” doesn’t always listen to the calendar. Here in Colorado, we usually get a large storm in October, and possibly another one or two before the year is over, but the majority of our snowstorms occur in January, February, and March. This year, that was especially true, with several feet of snow over the last two months! Technically, we’re not fully out of our winter weather here in Colorado, but we’re getting close. (Our official “planting outside is safe now” time is the end of April.)
As I talked about in my first self-care challenge, not all self-care is glamorous or fun to do. Sometimes, it’s simply doing what we need to do to keep ourselves alive, even when we don’t want to do them. “Self-care” just means taking care of yourself!
One of the things I really do not like doing is sorting my medications for the week. I take a lot of pills every day to keep me functional, and for infertility. (This is not something that is open to debate and comments telling me to get off pills will be deleted. My doctors have put me on each of my pills for specific reasons.) With Dan also taking a lot of supplements prescribed by our fertility clinic, it’s easier for me to sort out all our medications at once because I’m already sorting pills.
This time of year, everyone is making (and breaking) resolutions. Apparently, 17 days is the average length of time that most people stick to their resolutions. Since this is going up on January 23rd, most of you that made resolutions have probably already given up on them. I have a theory about why that may be, and I don’t think you’re a failure at all.
Most resolutions are mean towards ourselves and our bodies. Sure, they sound okay on the surface: “I want to exercise three times a week” or “I want to stick to the/a [insert type] diet this year.” But, why are you making those resolutions? Most of the time, the motivation is “I hate how I look” or “I feel like I should do this” and not “I want to feel better” nor “my body is asking me for this.” If those last two were the actual reasons for wanting to make the changes, then I doubt the resolutions would die in less than a month.
Here in the northern hemisphere, the weather is cooling off as we move into fall. Well, it’s supposed to be anyway, but Colorado has still been unseasonably hot; I’m optimistic though! Heat and dysautonomia are a rough combination on me, so the slightly cooler weather of early fall allows me to do a lot more! This summer seems to have been hotter than usual for most people, and even my able-bodied friends that are extremely active in summer have been struggling.
In the southern hemisphere, I know it’s starting to get a little warmer as you move into spring. The “transition seasons” have some gorgeous weather for getting outside and being active. Even though they can be a tad unpredictable, the nice days tend to be full of weather that’s neither too hot nor too cold. I always try to take full advantage of these short seasons!
Everyone is stressed nowadays. In fact, as a society, we’ve started glamorizing stress. Think that’s weird? Well, if someone was telling you that they had to somehow figure out how to run to 5 different stores, get their kids to three different sports (all on different ends of town), go to their own high-intensity spin class, and still work full time – what would you think? Odds are, most people think “Wow, they really have their life together! I am so not measuring up.” But, if you really stop and think about how that must feel, they probably feel like a frayed rope trying to hold up an elephant.
These levels of stress are severely unhealthy, and we’re doing them to ourselves. Society has put such a premium on “busier is better” that we don’t take time to relax or unwind.
High levels of stress have been scientifically proven to shorten our telomeres. Telomeres are essentially caps on the ends of our chromosomes that are responsible for protecting our DNA. While they naturally shrink as we age, long-term stress accelerates this shortening process. When the telomeres are no longer there, our chromosomes begin to get damaged, which causes aging and decreased cellular health. Yikes!
(In summary: Being excessively stressed ages you prematurely and causes cell damage.)
As the weather gets warmer here in the northern hemisphere, many of us get a lot more active! An increase in activity necessitates an increase in hydration. When it’s hot outside, even if you’re not active, you need to increase hydration as well. Heat causes you to sweat, and sweat causes you to lose a lot more water than you would if you weren’t sweating. While hydration is important year round, I thought the warmer weather would be a good time to really focus on your hydration levels!
Lately, I’ve been feeling less and less like myself. With everything going on in my life, my self-care routines have been abandoned – which has created this empty “not me” shell. I’ve still been helping support Izzy and her family (posts 1 & 2), recovering from my arm surgery (posts 1, 2, & 3), and then the general life busyness intensified.
Self-care is different for everyone. Some people go all out and spend an entire day in a spa or go on a full vacation to relax. Some people don’t like those things (my mom hates being touched by strangers so massages/manicures/pedicures are torture for her), or can’t afford them, which is fine. Other’s with limited funds or resources may do spa days at home (I created some luxurious bath bombs for use at home, and they were quite a bit cheaper than the ones you can buy), or choose to take a staycation. And then there is the amazing #BoringSelfCare movement, which I absolutely love!
Or maybe taking a break in the grass is your idea of self-care!