Q: It comes but one time a year and we may hide from it, ignore it or do it big; what am I?
Answer: A birthday!
My birthday has just come around again and it is hard not to reflect on all the past year has brought. But for me my mind isn’t focused on COVID, or our political unrest all over the world, it is focused on how I responded to an ever-changing landscape of life.
Throughout this past year, I struggled with a nasty infection which made me feel awful most of the time, plus helped my kids through COVID schooling and worked longer hours, but I truly learned to set my limits. I have made my health and my family top priority while still working the same amount of time. Here are some of my best lessons over the past year:
Know your limit and don’t apologize for it at least not emotionally. As my energy changed and I simply couldn’t push through and work harder (something I had always done) I knew I had to set strict limits on the things I did in one day otherwise my body would simply stop. So, I would say something like this when people wanted me to do more, “I am sorry I am just not healthy enough right now to take on more.”
Stay home and enjoy home. I love life and I have a very vast number of interests but that doesn’t mean I can do the latest herb class and painting and take the kids hiking and also join a church group. Sometimes just planning to do nothing is what I really needed to do and that meant not going as many places or doing as many things.
Don’t plan things for your kids, just spend time with them. I have never been really good at hanging out because I am a doer, so I often would plan an activity with friends or family on the weekend. Now I will just go with it and color in a coloring book or draw with them or play tag at the park, no plan except just being present.
Leaving work on time. I was working more and more hours at work; taking care of patients when the thought occurred to me that there are other doctors who do a great job also so I apologize that I am booked but I have to stick to my schedule or I will get sick and then I can’t see anyone.
Take a lot of vitamins. When my energy dropped really low, I knew that internally I was missing some of my nutrients so I did a test to bring back my energy levels so that when I was with my family, I had energy in reserve for them. This process took a whole lot longer than expected.
While none of these are earth shattering revelations to many people, they are actually really difficult to put into practice when you have spent a lifetime not putting into practice these habits. And of course, we are impatient and want results immediately, I had not seen that but after working hard to just take care of me daily to make the right health decisions (some days there was mistakes - believe me.), it has taken 6-8 months to see more drastic improvements in my energy levels. I am not just noticing improvements in myself but also in my family as a whole and that is finally encouraging. So enjoy each year you are given and practice what have you learned about life in the last year. My wish for you is it is a path to wisdom and a happier healthier life.