Health & Wellness
I’ll admit it, self care was the last thing on my mind when my son was diagnosed. I didn’t have the time nor energy to do something nice for myself. In the beginning, even walking down the hallway was a win. Trekking down to the hospital cafeteria felt impossible. Once we were home, my daily outing to the mailbox was all I could take.
With time, I was able to start taking baby steps towards self-care. In the hospital, getting dressed in the morning, taking a daily shower, and putting on face moisturizer was where I began. The next step was an in-home spa night with my friend, Tara Gerhety. She sent me samples of Mark Kay products and at 9:30 PM in the bathroom, on a Zoom call, I gave myself a makeover and it made me feel alive again. That first step is always the toughest, but here are some ideas on what worked for me.
Once I was able to muster up some motivation to exercise again, I started doing free at-home workouts with GlowBodyPT, a six-week virtual workout plan that my friend Ashley started. Eventually, I invested in the paid workout plans because I really loved incorporating them into my daily schedule.
Then in the summer of 2019, I trained for the Newport, RI half marathon, and raised funds for pediatric cancer research through Alex’s Lemonade Stand. It was a very therapeutic experience and I’m proud to say I beat my time from over ten years ago.
Yoga & Meditation
Going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment can be a traumatizing experience for many families and patients. If you’re looking for some personal self-care, yoga and meditation are two other tools that can really help. My sister Mary (who has been on the podcast a few times) can help you get started. She’s a 200 hour registered yoga teacher with a special certification in trauma yoga. Mary offers TWO different types of virtual yoga classes that you can participate in right in the comfort of your home.
Virtual Trauma Yoga Private Classes - learn more here
“All level” Weekly Yoga Classes Every Friday from 5:30-6:15 EST ($12) - learn more here
Creating self-care routines for myself was really important. Incorporating essential oils and aromatherapy into my daily routine became a life-source for me. We always had the essential oil diffuser going in the hospital for the first two weeks during diagnosis so I kept that routine going once we arrived back home. Nowadays, I always have the diffuser going with special mixtures and Ollie loves it too. On top of that, I also started creating in-home facials for myself and try to give myself pedicures too.
As a caregiver, you have the right to express yourself and your emotions. You are not a robot. You are a person who has needs. Journaling has been a huge help for me throughout the journey. When the dust settles, schedule some time in your calendar to take some time for yourself to recharge. Whether it be journaling or documenting in another creative way, putting pen to paper can be a really healthy outlet. Remember though, be gentle with yourself and patient.
It may take some time to figure out what’s going to work for you. When you do, even doing the smallest, simplest action will help you be a better caregiver. Take some time to do something nice for yourself, push through the discomfort, and just say “yes!”