How did I get to be 65 and retired? And what happens now? Those were two questions I was asking myself this past April as my birthday and retirement occurred without much fanfare due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, I had been planning this for over five years. So, let’s go back a few years…
Like most people, my life journey has had its ups and downs, but in my 30s and 40s, I started to take notice of how stress was impacting my health, and began my quest to find the resources and tools that could support my wellness. There were several signposts along the way that signaled I needed to stop and take a wellness inventory. And, there were two major life events that changed the course for me. They both involved the health of my youngest child, who at the age of 5 was hit by a car and was in a body cast for three months. When he was 19, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Jacob Michael passed away three years later.
In both cases, while I took on an intense caregiver role, I was also made keenly aware of how I needed to find ways for self-care. I went on to work in a caregiving capacity through my role with the American Cancer Society.
But I continued to see signs and impacts of stress in my life and those around me, so I extended my search for resources and tools that I could use and share with others. I found simple tools that I could easily deploy on a daily basis.
“Begin by sitting in a comfortable position with nothing in your lap. It can be in a chair or on a cushion on the floor or against a wall for support. Just don’t lie down. Close your eyes. Begin to breathe slowly and rhythmically. Relax your head and shoulders. Feel the tension drain from your face. Breathe. Relax your chest and arms. Feel the tension melt away. Breathe. Relax your belly, hips and buttocks. Let go completely. Breathe. Relax your legs and feet, letting all the tension just drip away. Breathe.”
Use of essential oils. The sense of smell can be very powerful. It can invigorate you or slow you down. It has the potential to place you in an emotional state — preferably, calm and happy.
I like to do exercises that fit my abilities. I know I’m personally not aiming for any triathlon. Enjoyment aligned with abilities is key.
Eating healthier — not dieting, was something I sought to change entirely.
When I turned 60, I decided to focus my energy toward sharing these ideas with various caregivers and others who may need my help — work I started before my son got sick. I focused on wellness and helping others through life’s transitions by connecting them to resources for health, wellness and self-care.
The journey continues…