Two years ago my mother had a ministroke. It was Valentine's Day and while my boyfriend, Alex and I dined the night away, my phone collected urgent missed calls and texts from my sister. When I finally got home, I noticed the alerts and wondered why my sister would be bugging me so much -- it was unlike her.
That was when I learned my mother was in the emergency room due to stroke-like symptoms. All those years, months, and days carrying the burden of everything and everyone around her finally caught up.
Though it might sound selfish, all I could feel was anger when my mom had her ministroke. Worry -- yes. But frustration, mostly. I know I'm no stranger to the hospital, but I was pissed.
Why? Because we continue to feed into this culture of over-stressing and essentially killing ourselves. Society encourages us to boast about how little sleep we are running on and how much sweat, blood, and tears we put into everything.
That's not cute! No one is paying you enough to die!
When will we finally allow health to become a PRIORITY?
When I spoke with my mother that night, I yelled. And in my oldest-daughter "what the hell" voice, I cried and yelled some more. All I could think about was everything my mother never got to do in her life. All because she unconditionally gave her love, energy, and HEALTH to everyone else.
Yes, it is admirable. But, it is also stupid (Sorry, mom -- I'm not calling you stupid. You're the best.)
It was stupid because she forgot to add herself in her "caring for everyone" regimen. And it took a ministroke to wake her TF up.
Her ministroke was a blessing. A wakeup call. An opportunity to realize that her health needed to be valued more.
It was the same lesson for me when I had a horrible Lupus flare in 2012. That flare left me unable to eat or drink for many days. I saw my body shutting down. I saw the exhaustion. But I kept going anyway and ignored the signs.
Because I was #TeamNoSleep.
Because I was the hardest worker out there.
Because I was stupid.
Two years later...
My mom is finally taking a vacation. She is meeting me abroad and, thanks to my stern "I will be so disappointed in you" threat, she has not cancelled!
I know deep down she is worried, wondering who will take care of things when she's away (or rather, if they will meet her standards). But by prioritizing her health she is not only granting herself a happier and healthier life, she is also allowing those around her to prove themselves as helpful family members and friends.
How else can we live happier, healthier lives if we don't begin trusting others to step up to the plate and do their part?
How to Remember to Put Your Health First
In order move toward taking better care of yourself, you should be able to recognize when you are ignoring your health. Ask yourself these questions:
- Have I been exhausted lately?
- Am I getting upset quicker?
- Have my health conditions worsened?
- Am I losing sleep?
- Am I eating badly or drinking too much?
- Am I forgetting to take my medicine (or ignoring doctor recommendations)?
- Have I taken less care of myself?
If you've answered yes to any of these questions you know it is time to regroup and review your priorities. It will be difficult at first, but the best way to live well and happy (and pursue your dreams) is to be healthy. That's how I've been able to manage my Lupus and travel more.
Once you've recognized the problem, start working on the solution. To begin putting your health first, try some of these activities:
- Set an alarm for 15-30 minutes of silence each day (and meditate if you'd like)
- Take 30 minutes everyday to briskly walk, stretch, do yoga, or any other form of exercise
- Practice recording your frustrations, trepidations, joys, and experiences in a journal
- Give yourself at least eight hours of sleep each night
- Hang out with positive company
- Sign up for a new hobby that will keep your mind from work and personal stress
- Consult with your doctor regarding medications and homeopathic / at-home solutions
These initiatives should help bring you closer to the healthier life you deserve and in turn give you more energy and positive morale to pursue new adventures and a fulfilling life journey.
Have you ever had to (or think you need to) make health a priority?
When did you learn to take care of yourself more? Or are you still working on it?
**Remember, my statements only refer to my personal experiences and have not been evaluated nor approved by the food and drug administration.
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xx Olivia xx