Self-Care is Your Superpower

Self-care and self-love are so intertwined that, to me, they are the same. It’s hard to love yourself when you are not taking care of yourself.  I know that we must take care of others, but real self-care is a conscious desire to take care of our own physical and emotional needs.  We are about to start a new month.  This would be an excellent time for you to set your intention and start or restart your self-care plan.  Self-care is your superpower; without it, we are only half showing up for the people and things we love.

Your self-care can show up in many ways, journaling, meditation, exercising regularly, scheduling your medical appointments. The point is to ensure that your physical and mental well-being is at the top of your crowded “to do” list. When you do this, you can genuinely help others with an open heart. Otherwise, resentment will rise, and you will feel guilty for the genuine feelings emanating from your spirit. Because, self-care is your superpower!

So, take some time today and make a list of all the things you need to feel happy and whole. To have peace and live courageously and connected to the spaces you inhabit. You deserve it-give yourself permission to have it.

We start May 10th are you in!   Let me help you lose your next 10 pounds join the 5k Walking and Clean Eating program get healthy, lose weight, and increase your energy.  Everyone who signs up has the chance to earn a medal during our 5K virtual  walk/run,  and you can bring a friend for free that’s right your registration comes with a free guest pass.

 $5 of your registration will be donated to the Atlanta Mission to help them provide safe housing and meals for homeless mothers and their children:  SIGN UP YOU’RE YOUR MEDAL IS WAITING:        

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Is Your Cell Phone Disturbing Your Sleep?

We cannot live without them, right?  I am talking about your cell phone.  Some of us have even taken to sleeping with our phones.  I am guilty of that, but that could be the worst thing you could do if you want to get a good restful night’s sleep.  Not only does the urge to keep rechecking your social media accounts interrupt your sleep patterns.

😴📱Scientists are just beginning to dig into all the effects cell phone use has on our health … including obesity, heart disease, brain changes, depression, and more. But one thing they do know is that the blue light that comes from screens can severely impact the quality and quantity of our sleep!  If you still have children at home, now is the time to get them in the habit of putting their phones away before going to bed.  If the urge is too high to see who liked, shared, or commented on your last post, I am raising my hand, then recharging them in another room is a great way to break the habit.

If you want to get a great night’s sleep.  And who doesn’t, 😳📵😴try to put your phone (and tablets and TVs!) away for at least an hour before you go to bed, so your brain gets a break from the blue light, which can make you want to stay awake!

With Peace and Love,

Renee

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The latest episode of Welcome To Your Life Midlife Made Easier Podcast: This podcast is for midlife women who are juggling midlife, wellness, relationship, and work/life balance.  Get the latest tips, tools, and interviews from midlife women just like you.

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What Is The Best Picture You’ve Taken All Week?

The world has gotten so gloomy. It’s important that we make a concerted effort to remember the good things. Because, while we are in the midst of death and dying, life is still going on. 📷🌆👶🏻What’s the best picture you’ve taken this week? Share it in the comments!

No Need For Masks Or Social Distancing!

I took this photo on one of my morning walks. It was cold! But, it was good to get outside away from the news coverage and smell the fresh air and see that nature is still thriving.

With Peace and Love,

Renee

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The Anniversary of Loss: Three Ways to Get Through the Day

    If you have made it to midlife, you know what it means to lose someone you love.  April 17th would have been my younger brother’s 59th birthday.  Every year, on that day, I am reminded that there is a very noticeable gap between my youngest brother and myself.  David died from the same disease that took our dad, heart disease.  Of course, he was not the first death I’d experienced.  I have buried both of my parents, two grandmothers, and a beloved aunt.  But this is different. David and I were born 11 months apart.  I told people we were twins because between April and June, our respective birth months, we were the same age. 

     David was the balance between my youngest brother and me, he was calm, funny, a gifted artist who loved comic books, sci-fi, and he was the first tech nerd I ever knew.  As the pandemic rages around us, my heart goes out to the families who will celebrate their own anniversaries of loss next year.   Let me share with you three ways that I have found to get through the day.

  1. Cry:  This is not the day to stay in control of your emotions; if you feel like crying, let the waterworks go.  If possible, don’t spend the whole day crying that can be so draining.   Deal with your emotions unapologetically.
  2. Do something in remembrance:  My brother and I shared a love of all things sci-fi.  This year I watched the new Picard series in his honor.  You will never forget the person you lost, you can “empower yourself by proactively anticipating the anniversary and incorporating his or her memory into your plans.”
  3. Connect with others, the first couple of years after David passed away, I admit I shut myself off, worked long hours, or busied myself with my kids.  This year, I shared with them how I was feeling, told stories about when we were growing up, and how I would fight anyone who tried to bully him. Sharing with them helped me to remember David and gave them some insight on our childhood, a topic they tell me I don’t share enough.  My daughter-in-law dropped off a nice bottle of wine, and chocolates her kindness gave me a new memory to add to this anniversary.  On your anniversary, connect with others, share stories and memories.  Start a new tradition to honor your loved one and celebrate their contribution to you and to the world.

     Grief is one of those emotions that never really goes away, a smell, a song, a photo can bring back all the raw feelings of loss.  Take the time to care for yourself and tap into your inner strength.  Take a long walk, write your thoughts in a journal, take a yoga class, or talk to a therapist or coach, don’t suffer in silence.  That is the one thing I am sure your loved one would not want you to do. 

With Love and Peace,

Renee

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What Could I Do If I Wasn’t Afraid?

“Love Yourself, Dream Bigger” Teresa Collins

     I am not going to lie to you, midlife can be a scary phase of life.  Questions arise like, who is going to take care of me when I cannot take care of myself.  What if I don’t have enough money to live comfortably? I want to change careers but everyone I talk too tell me I am too old.  And, if these questions, are not enough to handle, what do we tell ourselves when we look at the dreams, we’ve left undone because we were just too afraid to take the first step.   

     If we have learned nothing else from the pandemic it is that we cannot afford to wait until tomorrow to live.  Live Now! Walk the marathon, write the book, start the business, cut people out of your life that no longer support you, acknowledge your mental health issues and get some help. Learn to motivate yourself and follow your own intuition, you got this!

With Peace and Love,

Renee

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Midlifers Tell the Truth: Are You Lonely?

Illustrated by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell

     It always fascinates me how in 2020, we can be so digitally connected and yet feel so alone.  Loneliness can be a part of midlife for many reasons, divorce, death of a spouse, or an empty nest.  A Psychology Today article contends that loneliness does not depend on your social circle; more than 60% of married people admitted to feeling lonely. In the United States,40% of midlife folks are affected by loneliness, and this could lead to some devastating health outcomes.

     But before we get started, let’s define the difference between loneliness and isolation since many of us use these terms interchangeably.  Isolation ensues when we have very little or no contact with other people, this can happen due to a mental health issue or as a health precaution to fight the spread of COVID-19 which is what many of us are experiencing now.   Loneliness, on the other hand, is an emotional state it can be caused by isolation but can also be due to other things such as the loss of a good friend or moving to a new city.

Health risks associated with loneliness can include higher stress levels, antisocial behavior, increased alcohol or drug consumption, and depression. Studies show that lonely adults are less likely to exercise and consume diets high in fat and calories.

Image: tonyrobbins.com

If you feel lonely, you are not alone. In 2010 AARP commissioned a study that classified loneliness by age; the results were astounding.  Using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, they measured the percent of lonely adults by age group:

  • Ages 40-49 – 43%
  • Ages 50-59 – 41%
  • Ages 60-69 – 32%
  • Ages 70+ – 25%

How can you protect yourself from the devastating effects of loneliness?

  • Nurture existing relationships: this step helped me to combat my loneliness, I make a point each day to contact a family member or friend.  And since we are practicing social distancing due to the virus, I reach out to work colleagues a couple of times each week to stay connected. 
  • Find a hobby: this one was a little bit harder because the things I enjoy don’t necessarily require company, but it has been a real joy cycling with my friend and organizing family walks.   You could start a bowling league or book club and invite family and friends.  Or, do something entirely out of your comfort zone like ballroom dancing and make some new friends.
  • Volunteer:  One of the best ways to get your mind off yourself is to give back to your community.  Find a place to donate your time and gift that organization with your gifts and talents.  Time spent volunteering will put you into social situations that will help you to meet new people in a safe environment.

If your loneliness persists or turns into isolation, don’t be afraid to seek help, many organizations such as Better Help offer online therapeutic services.  As with any service, do your due diligence and research before you commit.  Also, check out the Coalition to End Isolation and Loneliness; this is a non-profit organization that works to assist individuals with local and national resources to end loneliness.   

     It is a myth that the older you get, the lonelier you will become, yes, your life will change, kids grow up and move out, you might get divorced, or your spouse might pass away, maybe your friend of 25 years will move to another state.  I have found that one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to be flexible and to live your life with a curious mind.

With Love and Peace,

Renee

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Why Am I So Unproductive?

You probably had a list of items you were going to accomplished while being quarantined at home.  I know I did, my cleaning and organizing alone were going to take me through the 30- day shelter at home order our Governor had put into effect.  But I spent the first week with the rest of America lying on the sofa glued to the newsfeed and its unsettling statistics. If that is where you are right now, it is okay. 

While your family and friends are sewing protective masks, planning summer gardens, and hosting fundraisers for the essential workers that keep us fed, protected, and cared for, which are all excellent activities to be involved in right now.   You and I need to take some time to show ourselves some compassion.  The Coronavirus has created an unprecedented time in all our lives.  We need to allow ourselves time to grieve the comforting regularity of our normal routines and for the many families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

If you would like to get some things done while you’re in isolation, let me share with you how I slowly peeled myself off the sofa.

  1. Break up your large goals into smaller ones. Take your “to do” list and select three items you would like to complete.  Do this each day until the list is complete.  Don’t add any new items to the list until you have completed the current one.
  2. Use the Pomodoro method-this method made it possible for me to blog and complete my podcast.  Even without the virus looming, I have a tough time staying focused.  The technique is simple but powerful.  To begin, “Make a small oath to yourself: I will spend 25 minutes on this task, and I will not interrupt myself. You can do it! After all, it’s just 25 minutes.”
  3. Take a break; these breaks allow you to recharge and refocus and reduce the negative self-talk that can sneak up on you when you are just not in the mood to complete a task.  Negative self-talk starts with something along the lines of “I will never get this done.”  It will break your spirit and make it hard for you to tap into the personal power you need to make it through to the end.  

If you write the next great American novel, during the time of COVID-19 congratulations, and if you emerge with your sanity intact, and an organized closet, congratulations to you too.

Wishing you Peace and Love,

Renee

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How Can I Help My Family Members Understand My Mental Illness?

Note:  Today’s blog has a new format; I will be answering a question from one of readers.  If you have a question you would like to ask about health and wellness, relationships, or life, please email me at info@reneereid.net, and your question could be featured on a future podcast.

Today’s question is from Brandiss, she writes, I am 50 years old and was diagnosed with depression about six years ago.  I am married and have two teenaged daughters, I have been trying to explain my diagnosis to my family, but they don’t seem to understand what I am going through. Now that we are all stuck home together, I thought this would be a good time for us to have an honest conversation.  How should I start?

Brandiss, thank you so much for your question; I know that the pandemic, social isolation, and sheltering in place has been a trigger for many of us suffering from a mental health disorder.  I am so grateful to be out of bed today.  As a Mental Health Practitioner, I worked with families to help them to understand their loved one’s diagnosis so that they can be a natural support for them once our services ended.  Sometimes, it worked.  Sometimes it didn’t.  

I know we have made a lot of progress, but there is still a stigma attached to a mental health diagnosis.  I applaud you and anyone who has the courage not only to face their diagnosis but also to share it with their families so that they can begin to understand and provide valuable help when it is needed.   I have four tips that I think will work well for you and anyone dealing with a chronic illness.  Your mental illness is probably not going to go away but can be managed successfully.  These four steps should get the conversation started.

  1. Education:  Don’t skip this step; it would help if family members had a bird’s eye view of exactly what symptoms and causes of your mental health diagnosis.  They don’t need a dissertation; you can simply give them a pamphlet, article, or book.  You can provide the information and then give them time to digest it and ask you questions.  Check out this TEDx talk by Dr. Lloyd  Sederer entitled When Mental Illness Enters a Family.  You and your family can watch Dr. Sederer’s talk together.
  2. Be Clear on What You Need:  This is not the time to have family members guessing on how to help you, guesswork will just increase the stress for both you and your loved one.  So, tell them, when I feel this way__________, I need you too___________.   Remember that you and your family members are dealing with something that even the medical community doesn’t fully understand.    For example, when I am having an anxiety attack, I need you to remind me of one of my coping strategies, whether that’s journaling, walking, listening to a meditation recording, or yelling into a pillow.  Knowing what to do will empower your family members.
  3. Explain your triggers:  If you have worked with a mental health practitioner, then you’ve heard of triggers.  Discuss yours with your family so that they can be aware that a person, place, thing, or event can trigger an episode for you.   About three years ago, I was working with a client who was diagnosed with OCD.  We sat down with her kids and explained to them that leaving the shoes and bookbags at the front door when they came home from school was a trigger for mom.  Instead, we asked them to take all their belongings to their room.  Because when they dropped them at the door, this triggered mom to want to clean for two or three hours instead of cooking dinner.  If possible, schedule a meeting with you and your family and your therapist.  They can provide real support for you as you try to explain to your family how they can help.
  4. Guard your feelings: sometimes, family members and friends can be very supportive and loving, and sometimes they will just not understand.  You do not have to argue with them or try to convince them that what you are feeling is real.   Remember that Supportive Loved Ones Come in All Shapes and Sizes, if you cannot find natural support from your family and friends, look for it in the form of professional assistance from a therapist, case manager, or coach.  Search for online support groups or start your own.  While you want family members to be there for you, give yourself permission to focus on getting well.

If you are trying to provide support for someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness check out Nami the National Alliance ON Mental Illness -they have an excellent program called Family to Family that is designed to help family members have a better understanding about mental illness and how they can be supportive. I took this program way back in 2010 and it was a great resource.

Wishing You Peace and Love,

Renee

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Overeating Does Not Make You a Lost Cause or a Bad Person- It Makes You Human!

So, you had a bad eating day, who hasn’t, this journey toward health is a marathon, not a sprint, so allow yourself some grace, or you won’t last.  If what you’ve eaten today does not necessarily line up with your healthy eating plan.  Write down why!  What happened that threw you off track:

Did you forget to pack your lunch?  Did you skip breakfast? Did you stay up late watching the news and didn’t get enough sleep? Are you sad? 

When you take a step back and look at the day through your logical eye and not emotions, you can pinpoint the trigger and correct your course.  Overeating does not make you a bad person or a lost cause.  It makes you human!

So, you had a bad eating day, who hasn’t, this journey toward health is a marathon, not a sprint, so allow yourself some grace, or you won’t last.  If what you’ve eaten today does not necessarily line up with your healthy eating plan.  Write down why!  What happened that threw you off track:

Did you forget to pack your lunch?  Did you skip breakfast? Did you stay up late watching the news and didn’t get enough sleep? Are you sad? 

When you take a step back and look at the day through your logical eye and not emotions, you can pinpoint the trigger and correct your course.  Overeating does not make you a bad person or a lost cause.  It makes you human!

So, you had a bad eating day, who hasn’t, this journey toward health is a marathon, not a sprint, so allow yourself some grace, or you won’t last.  If what you’ve eaten today does not necessarily line up with your healthy eating plan.  Write down why!  What happened that threw you off track:

Did you forget to pack your lunch?  Did you skip breakfast? Did you stay up late watching the news and didn’t get enough sleep? Are you sad? 

When you take a step back and look at the day through your logical eye and not emotions, you can pinpoint the trigger and correct your course.  Overeating does not make you a bad person or a lost cause.  It makes you human!

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How to End the Struggle with Nighttime Grazing

Nighttime eating can ruin the physical and emotional progress you’ve made during the day. There are several reasons why we continue to eat after the dinner meal is over.  It could be that you’re bored, hungry, or using food to meet a need other than hunger.   

To end the struggle, try creating a routine.  Make sure that you are getting enough sleep and spread out your meals during the day.  Take out a piece of paper right now and write down your eating and sleeping schedule for the next week.  Spreading meals out through the day will help you to feel less hungry at night. Make sure your meals include a protein, grain, veggie, and a healthy fat.

Remember, if your body is used to eating more calories than it needs, it might take seven to ten days for it to self-regulate when you start eating the calories you need to live and thrive.

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