We all know what ‘halftime’ means in sports. The first half of the game has been played; the second half of the game is upcoming. It’s smack in the middle. Some call us the sandwich generation.
It is not so different for us as women in midlife. We can look back on our past and see so many memories and experiences through the years. Our children are probably grown, or getting to that point in their lives. Our parents are older and may be requiring more time, attention and care. And, here we are, right in the middle.
It’s easy to lose ourselves in the process, and that can lead to stress related illness, sleep issues, weight issues and even relationship stresses with our spouse/partner.
I feel so strongly about the need for us as women over 50 to stay in touch with ourselves, maintain our own health and well being and set goals for our future, I created an online course to help refresh, revive, renew and plan. It’s called INSPIRE YOUR LIFE and I’d encourage any woman in midlife to take a few minutes to learn more about this course and how it can benefit you!
So what can we do to take care of ourselves in midlife, make sure that our needs are met, and reduce the opportunity for these issues to arise? There are two areas that we need to be aware of and nurture: our mental health and our physical health.
Looking After Our Mental Health
If you have a parent who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or other cognitive diseases, you have firsthand experience with the ravages of illness and how it can take away the very essence of those we love. It is a tough road that a family travels with this type of illness. Learn how to get some help with Alzhiemer’s here.
And it’s natural to be concerned about your own future…could this happen to you? Is this disease hereditary? Is there anything that can be done to prevent the onset? Is it inevitable? Should I just give up and let it happen if that is my fate??
Not at all!
We need to take control of that gray matter between our ears and do something about it. The fundamentals are, surprisingly, very simple.
Treating your mind like a muscle is one of the best approaches. Because our brains are durable and malleable, which is something called neural plasticity, we can promote additional connections in our brains.
It’s a common misconception that we can only learn so much up to a certain age, and then it becomes more difficult. In fact, we can undertake some simple practices that will help to improve our brains and help keep them functioning well as we age. Learn something new. Learn a language, an instrument, something that challenges your mind!
My dad passed away a few months ago at the age of 96. He was blessed with a sharp mind up until the last few days of his life here on earth. I firmly believe that his daily crossword puzzle activities, reading his Kindle, participating in many conversations with friends, family and, well, anyone he happened to come into contact with, helped him to stay sharp and aware for all those years.
The Takeaway: SET ASIDE TIME for yourself every day. It must be a priority. Whether it is first thing in the morning, a mid day break or a few minutes of alone time in the evening, make sure you give this gift to yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.
DO SOMETHING POSITIVE, uplifting and important to YOU. It might be reading, prayer, meditation, learning a skill (I am learning Spanish, very, very slowly!), a favorite TV show…whatever helps you to relax and refresh.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW. What are your interests? What do you want to know more about? Pursue that passion!
The other side of our mental health is battling anxiety, worry, and the feeling that we have to take care of it all, even as we are getting older ourselves. I think to some extent we all experience these feelings. The difference is how significantly they affect our everyday life and what we do about them.
Our natural tendency is to stuff them away and act like we’re not scared, or feeling low, or helpless, or frustrated. After all, no one else feels this way, right? (I mean, look at their Facebook page and Instagram feed…their life is perfect!) Wrong!
It’s far better for us to acknowledge that we can struggle with anxiety, worry and perhaps depression, and learn to put these feelings in their proper place. A fellow blogger, Laurie Stone, talks about this eloquently in her post, How Can Us Neurotics Survive?
The Takeaway: Know that we all experience feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and being overwhelmed at times, particularly at the ‘Halftime’ of our lives! But, we don’t have to do it all. We can ask for help. We can give ourselves credit for what we are accomplishing every day, and even feel proud of that.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE: I seem to say this in almost every post, but it’s so true! A healthy diet, regular exercise, remaining socially active, moderate alcohol consumption and nicotine avoidance are all actions that when put into practice as a whole, will help keep our minds and bodies healthy!
The Physical Side Of Aging
Are you over the age of 50? If you answered ‘yes’ to that question, you know how the physical side of aging impacts taking care of ourselves in midlife.
If we choose to do nothing and just let it happen, we’ll find the scale going up and our endurance and physical capacity on a downward track. Add in the time, effort and yes, the stress, of family responsibilities and you have a recipe for health issues.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, my friends. Taking care of your physical health is much the same as your mental health…it takes a commitment first, then it takes action on a repetitive basis.
You probably wouldn’t decide to run 2 miles if you haven’t walked around the block in over a year, would you? (Gosh, I hope not!). A healthy exercise program begins with a visit to your physician first, to make sure you are able to handle the physical activity.
Then, doing a little bit and often, a slow but steady start that builds up over a period of time, is the smart approach.
A healthier approach to what we eat goes hand in hand with regular exercise. If our day is so full that we can’t give ourselves 30 minutes for a brisk walk (or whatever exercise works for you), and enough meal prep time to eat something other than fast food, there is something out of kilter. Who pays the price for that? You guessed it – YOU!
There are a number of healthy eating plans to choose from, that will give you some guidance and structure, such as the mediterranean diet.
The Takeaway: changes in our physical appearance and stamina are inevitable as we get older, and can be magnified by a lifestyle that is stressful and unhealthy. You are in charge of yourself, first and foremost.
Learning to take care of ourselves in midlife…our Halftime…has to be a priority if we want to remain healthy, happy and ready to be the best parent, grandparent and adult child that we can be!
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