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 forget about self care as we age.
We may be pulled in a number of different directions…maintaining relationships with our adult children, spending time with our grand kids, assisting our parents.
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.
So what can we do to provide that self care as we age, 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.
Self Care as We Age
Looking After Our Mental Health
1 | 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 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 French, 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!
2 | 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!
Do you track your workout goals and results? How about other tasks, goals and dreams?
Thinking about a goal is one thing; putting it in writing takes you so much further toward turning it into a reality!
These are the tools and resources I use to keep myself accountable & plan for the future. LEARN MORE
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 self care as we age
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 provide that essential self care as we age…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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20 thoughts on “Halftime! The Importance of Self Care as We Age”
You and I are on the same page Candi as I agree with everything you have written. Sometimes I feel like my life is always a WIP but at least I’m working on it rather than sitting back and letting life pass me by. I strongly believe in an holistic approach to health – mental, physical and spiritual. If all three align then we are on the way to living a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. There is a friend who is in my MILs aged care home. He is probably late 70s early 80s and he is the jigsaw puzzle king. He works on these intricate puzzles each day and I know that it keeps his mind active and brain working because some of them are over 1,000 pieces. We need to keep getting the message out there that we can make changes, even small ones to improve the quality of our life. I love your term ‘halftime’ . Midlife is a good time to take a ‘time out’ break and refocus on our health and happiness for the second half of the game. Have a great week. xx
Thanks so much Sue, I always value your response and feedback. We’ll keep on moving forward and learning new things, through our ‘halftime’ of life and beyond!
Hi Candi, we sure will keep moving forward and I always love reading your posts because I always learn from you and your ideas. Thanks for sharing with us at #MLSTL and have a great week! xx
Thanks Sue, always glad to join in the party! xo
Great post!! I am well into my half time and there is so many useful tips! Thank you!
Thanks Holly…it’s a great time in our life as long as we keep learning and growing!
I enjoyed your post Candi and can see many similarities in my life. I’ve recently taken my diet in hand and reduced sugar intake (mainly hidden forms), carbs and increased healthy fats and water. It’s working well and I’m not suffering too much at all. I liken blogging to doing puzzles that others may do, the whole thing of learning new skills and keeping my brain active. Pinned for #mlstl
I agree, Deb, that as bloggers we are always learning and using our brains as we think, create and write. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Absolutely – the old use it or lose it. The idea of learning something new is so important too, not just doing the same old things. Learning the piano is on my list at the moment for a challenge.
Hi Christine, glad to hear you’re going to learn play the piano! I started taking lessons when I was 6 years old and played regularly until the age of 50. I have always found the piano to be a source of stress relief and calm. Thanks for stopping by!
You’re so right about mental and physical fitness Candi. I took so much for granted when I was younger, but now I have to work much harder to try to keep the weight creep at bay and I’m in the process of trying to learn a new skill on a regular basis so that my mind stays active as well.
MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂
Yes, it is much harder to maintain our weight now than when we were young, darn it! For me, though, I want to stay in shape as well as learn new things. Keep moving forward… Thanks for stopping by, Leanne!
Great post. I am focused more on self-care now as I move through my 50’s and inch closer to 60. My husband and I recently changed how we eat, but we call it a lifestyle change instead of a diet. It’s working well for us. With one move just completed and another looming, though it can be easy to forget about self-care if I let myself. Instead, I have plans to move through the next few months with gratitude and a massage or two. 😉
I like the phrase ‘lifestyle change’, because that is really what we’re doing. It’s a long term adjustment! Hope all goes well with the upcoming move, Jennifer!
I couldn’t agree more, Candi. We must take care ourselves–to improve the quality of our own lives, as well as to be able to help those we love. I’ve made physical activity and healthy eating (most of the time) part of my every day life. Recently, I’ve added in some balance work. This winter I’m going to brush up on my French. Also, I’m still working, which takes a fair amount of brain power. 🙂 Thanks for this important reminder. I will share on social media. #MLSTL
Thanks so much, Christie!
It took me a long time to understand the value of self-care. I always assumed putting my needs first a selfish act.
I agree with all your suggestions; I just need to start implementing them in my own life. I’m hoping 2019 is the year I learn to prioritize activities that fill my soul rather than rely on old habits that no longer serve me.
Will pin to #mlstl board to help me stay focused in the New Year 🙂
Thanks Molly, our good intentions sometimes get sidetracked, don’t they? I think we can all use some focus and self-care goals for the new year!
Candi, there’s not one of your posts that I don’t absolutely love! Just today I’m taking my eating back in hand and realize I’m not taking GOOD time for myself (I don’t count begging in front of Netflix as quality me time). You are so inspiring!
Thank you so much, Hannah, I’m so glad you find my posts helpful! That means a lot to me.