When do you start to give more priority to your self-care?
I only started giving more emphasis to my self-care after my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2017. He felt sudden pain one evening. His face turned pale. My brother brought him to the clinic and he was advised to go to the polyclinic to get a referral letter to get more detailed check up at the hospital. I brought him to the polyclinic the next day which happens to be his birthday. This was such a wonderful birthday present. He was soon diagnosed with cancer, had his operation in April and chemotherapy started soon after. If not for the diagnosis, we could have lost our dad earlier. He fought well for 3 good years before leaving us peacefully in his sleep with a smile with all of us beside him.
I was his primary caregiver. I realised I have been neglecting the importance of self-care. I was just getting busy with work and life in general. It was challenging to juggle caregiving responsibilities with work and studies. I brought him to his medical appointments and treatments. I made it a point that he is emotionally well. I was always around when he needed me. I was studying for my TCM diploma with lessons 3 days per week. Dad's chemotherapy session was once a week with the various appontments with different specialists. I had to adjust my appointments around his timing. I was trying to switch career. I started my first business with his encouragement. It did not turn out well as I did not have much time for it. I just did whatever opportunities came along the way. I was not actively prospecting. I stopped that business after a year.
It was rather stressful with the various commitment coming in at the same time. What helped greatly was me-time. My mum and brother will take over the caregiving responsibilities when I am out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind. When they don't see me or I am not home, they will take over the caregiving responsibility. We are blessed that my dad can take care of himself in most aspects until the very last month or so. Self-care with nature walks
Me-time was precious with the various commitment on my plate. I started walking every morning at the park connector. It feels good to be in nature. I listen to my favorite radio channel while walking. The radio DJs are so entertaining. I enjoy the time to walk, laugh with the DJs and also some quiet time to think. I tried meditating but my mind just runs around. Qigong was part of my diploma program. I love it. It is slow so I started practising it to quieten my mind through the various strokes. I go slow with my exercise. I have not exercised regularly for years. Walks were great for a start. I tried high intensity workouts but they were too much for me. I went back to walks. I started walking faster and then to running. I run slowly. My objective is just to move my body and perspire. Self-care with colourful diet
I started adding colours to my plate. In TCM, these 5 colours are good for the respective organs: Green - Liver; Red - Heart; Yellow - Spleen; White - Lungs; Black - Kidney It was really not easy to prepare our own meals when I do not like the kitchen to start with. I only like to eat!
It helps when we plan the dishes and buy the ingredients for a week in advance. It was frustrating when there were too much food left by end of the week or no ideas on what to prepare by mid week. It helps with the convenience of herbal tea. Just add hot water instead of cooking the herbs. It is a journey. We won't know what works for us until we try. Get started.
Keeping self-care simple
My self-care is simple, which is what I want to achieve with Ouch! Many have formed unhealthy habits over the years. It is not easy to sustain ambitious health goals. I would love to make self-care easy to A.C.E. our health with
- Acupressure - Convenient nutrition - Exercise
Start your self-care journey for yourself and your loved ones
I don't want to go through the same caregiving journey like my dad's with my mum. I made her go for walks and practise qigong with me. I do acupressure massage for her almost every night. She also drinks the herbal tea I prepare for her.
No matter which stage you are right now for your self-care, please get started and continue.