Tag Archives: Wellness

[Health Rx] Taking Care of Your Care Takers

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Back a few months ago when my parents were visiting for Christmas break, we broke into one of our typically deep dinner-prep conversations that usually span topics like life philosophy, religion, love, politics, and basketball.  Basically, any of those topics that you were always told to steer away from – that’s where we go, immediately. Over Thanksgiving when my family first met Danny, one of the first group discussions we got into was answering my aunt’s question: “What’s your vice?”.  Not that we’ve ever cared about taking turns, but this time it was definitely mine – as we sat around, glasses of wine and beer in hand, I turned to them and whimsically wondered “When did you first realize that you were an adult?” After some bemused chuckles in the room,  we finally got to some answers that ranged from when they paid off their first car loan to when they got the keys for their first apartment.  Up to the end of last year, I can’t say that I felt much like an adult in any way, shape or form but that’s all been flipped on it’s head in the last few months.

One of the biggest psychological issues that we all deal with as we grow up is the idea of mind-body duality: I am a conscious entity, and I’m being expressed through a separate physical body.  Our entire life feels like a reconciliation of these two ideas as we learn to live with both in perpetual symbiosis. As we age past midlife, the crux of our life’s parabolic function, the more our lives revert back to mirroring infancy and the older we get the more the mind body duality tends to re-separate, and their relationship seems to be in revolt: My consciousness feels fine, while my body is anything but.  It’s one thing to recognize this in ourselves, but quite another entirely when it’s happening to a parent, when you have to take care of your care takers

Let’s face it, we’ve been the ones that have had to be cared for…up until now. But somewhere along the way to the rest of our lives, we just had to grow up.  We got older, we evolved, we matured into ourselves and we started figuring out how to be adults. Child, sister, brother, teenager, adult, wife, husband, mother, father, grandparent…of all the roles that we either briefly or permanently assume over the course of our lives, the most inevitable role – the one that we’re least prepared for – is the part of care taker.  All egos included in the scenario are off kilter – more often than not, our parents and peers don’t want to accept care from their children.  We’re the people they looked after with gleeful and conscious delight for our whole lives, they cleaned our scraped knees and wiped away our tears….and now, we’re supposed to be their strength?  In short, yes.

Self Care + Proper Proper Prioritization

Maslow had his hierarchy of needs, and you do, too.  While we stress about taking care of those we love, we often forget to take care of our number one – ourselves, so let’s talk about you and how to best take care of yourself in these difficult times. In order to maintain any semblance of normalcy and or sanity, you’ll want to keep some semblance of your old schedule, at the bare bones minimum you’ll want to focus on maintaining a comfortable routine.When it comes to taking care of loved ones, chances are you’re going to have to rearrange the order of parts your pyramid of priorities.

Mind, Body and Soul

Your well being and the well being of those your caring for now catapult to the top of your list, and a lot of things will fall to the wayside – for now, it’s okay to let it. Your social circle and the social circle of those that you’re helping need to be aware of what you’re going through so they can figure out the best way to be supportive of what you’re experiencing. It’s not the most fun, but be prepared to put-off your less permanent plans while you get some necessary nesting in.

Beyond your metal health and emotional health, your physical health is equally important.  Make sure you’re maintaining your daily meals and getting in the necessary calories, because you can’t take care of those you love if you’re not taking care of yourself.  If you can make it to the gym, go ham – if you can’t, don’t stress!  Try your luck with a local yoga studio, or get up, get out and go for walk around the neighborhood.

The Value of a Support System

Life can be tricky, but having a good support system makes it a hell of a lot easier for everyone. We’re not just talking about those you’re taking care of, but you.  Be honest with yourself on what you need, and between your pride and your ego: don’t be afraid to ask. You have people in your life that love you to the moon and back, and would want to be there for you any way they can – let them. Whether its a quick phone call at lunch, an impromptu dinner date or a little text that just says they’re thinking of you, having people in your life that you can depend on to love you when you need it is everything.

Stay Organized

With any health issue, comes pounds and pounds of paperwork to be sorted.  Some of it can be tossed – though, I emphatically believe that you shred personal information instead. My recommendation is to keep a detailed medical diary – especially if there are multiple medications to deal with.  Create a table with pertinent information, wound changes, medical dosages, etc and be sure to input any changes to their status in the diary. Beyond the health issues at hand, there are a lot of non-medical financial numbers and paperwork to handle when you’re in assist mode, so make sure you stay on top of it with some organizational help.  Draw up a bill calendar and make sure they’re on auto-pay to reduce stress of late payments and shut off fees.

Taking care of the people that have always taken care of you can seem like a daunting task, but know you are beautiful in your selfless sacrifice, in your vulnerability, and in your depth. Do you have any pieces of advice for those out there in care taker mode?  Let me know in the comments below.

Love and light to all of you.

Xx

 

 

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[Top Shelf] Summertime Skin Solutions

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After so many iterations around the sun on our beautiful planet, thirty – if you want to get technical, I’ve begun to tell the changes in the season by the way my body acts and reacts to the world around me.  Slight aches in my knees and ankles in the morning happen more frequently as Fall ebbs into Winter, while my nails feel like they chip more frequently as Spring flows though to Summer.  Not to mention, my skin gets put through the wringer at the shift of each season, and even more if I’m not careful.  The thing about skin, is it’s your biggest organ and you’ve only got the one, weather and seasons and the great outdoors are always going to be a factor, as is your diet, nicotine and alcohol consumption (I’m looking at you, college me).  Now that I’ve entered my thirties, I’ve been a lot kinder to my skin on purpose – making sure to treat my body like the temple that it is.

A swimmer since I was a little one, I would jump in the pool year round – playing around for hours on end without sunscreen and burn once every few years.  I always reached a nice golden brown while my hair faded from brunette to blonde with every dip into the chlorine and back into the sunshowers. Needless to say, I’ve been a bit lackadaisical with my skin care until pretty recently. Back when Winter was kicking itself into full gear, which is not so coincidentally when my birthday hits, I took one long look at the expression lines on my forehead that have etched a permanent place on my body since childhood and the awkwardly ashy cracks in my joints and made a mad dash for the skin care aisle.  Just think – if everything worked out well with hydrating your Winter skin during the blustery cold dry spells, then give back into the urge to treat yo’ face and body and lotion up because it’s going to be a hot Summer.  When the heat comes, like it literally just did this past weekend to Los Angeles, it takes, takes and takes from your body: zapping skin, pulling moisture out of your hair and leaving lips feeling chapped and sad.

Hydration is a Major Key

Back in winter it was about hydrating your face – which is still valid, but lets take this a step further because as my significant other always reminds me: hydration is the key to a long and successful weekend.  When you’re out and about, prancing at the beach, sunning by the pool or simply enjoying some sunshine infused shenanigans – the Sun is busy draining your body of energy and water, as your body fights to not overheat.  Ever had heatstroke, heat exhaustion or saw someone suffering from it?  It’s the exact opposite of a good time and incredibly hard on your internal organs, your cardiovascular system and – your skin.  It’s simply just as important to take care of your body from the heat on the inside as much as we do from the outside.

Water is your friend – but drinks with electrolytes like coconut water, smart water, juices and sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade come jam packed with nutrients that replenish your body.  You’ve heard of preloading for festivals?  Well, you can preload for anything – including extreme heat. And sometimes, water alone isn’t enough.  Before you bounce out on your adventures this Summer, make sure you drink at least a liter before you step out the door and come prepared with 1L bottle of water or Gatorade for every two hours you plan on being outside.  You might think it’s overkill, but your body – and your friends that forgot their water – will thank you later.

 

Protect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

 

Now that we’ve taken care of the internal body, let’s tackle what the sun is hitting directly: Your lips, skin and even your hair are all susceptible to sun damage, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and take some extra precautions.  First things first, SPF.  Those little letters stand for your Sun Protection Factor, which can range from nearly none at all, a 2-5 exists in some tanning lotions, to a ridiculous high of 80.  Now, do you need an SPF of 80? Absolutely not. But if it helps you feel better, go for it. As it turns out, SPF 15 blocks 94% of the rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97%, in contrast -SPF 45 only blocks 98%.

When the sun is out in full force, it sends UVA and UVB light waves down – sunscreens only block out the UVB rays, and some are far more effective than others.Products within sunscreen have shifted dramatically over time, especially with research on skin cancer and melanoma, but it’s still smart to check that your sunscreen is rid of PABAs.  That said, be on the lookout for “physical sunscreens” that contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide – the two compounds reflect light off of the skin instead of filtering the light that hits the skin. Physical sunscreens are only effective up until an SPF of around 50 – which is pretty perfect, since above 50 doesn’t change it’s effectiveness.

For skincare, my personal favorite is actually gift bag swag from Blue Medi Spa:  Fenix Hydrating Sunscreen in SPF 30. I swear by it daily and highly suggest you go grab yourself some ASAP.  If you’re looking for something more generic, I’m also a huge fan of Hawaiian Tropic’s Sport Lotion Sunsreen in SPF 30 – because you can bounce from the ocean to the volleyball court and back to your towel without sunscreen smears and streaky sweat. Not to mention, it smells delightful!  Kiss your chapped, lips goodbye and dive into some lusciously tasty lip balms.  Make sure you snag the ones that have some SPF in them like Chapstick brand.  Their lip balms range from SPF 12 up to SPF 25 and SPF 50+. And don’t forget about your hair – especially if you’ve invested a lot in the color!  I haven’t dyed my hair in over a decade, but when I did – the color would fade so fast in the Summer months.  Enter Oscar Blandi’s Capri Sun Shield Spray – it’s so good, that I spent 20 minutes hunting down a link because I thought it was discontinued, but no – just only available in obscure online stores.  But hey – at least it’s available!

With your after sun care, Aloe Vera shouldn’t just be a want this Summer, it’s a necessity; one luxurious soak in it after a long day at the beach and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.  There’s some great creme after sun lotions out there to use as substitutes to the pure gel like Alba’s Very Emolient After Sun Lotion which comes with 85% Aloe , but baby – ain’t nothing like the real thing and Trader Joe’s has a great one for an incredibly affordable price (though, as a warning – it definitely has a smell, which I now associate with feeling cool as a cucumber).

Think your skin care game is lacking but you’re not sure why? This might sound a little silly – but hear me out: if you have the cash to buy yourself a random Martini on a Tuesday night, then you can definitely treat yourself to a $10 IPSY or Birchbox Subscription.  The boxes come monthly and you can cancel at any time; with each delivery, you get to dive into a package of skin care samples and goodies with highly sought after trial sizes and even a full sized product or two. The last few months, they’ve both been killin’ the skin care game and I’ve discovered some new favorite products to add to my daily routine. Among them, I’ve fallen head over heals for the Coola Classic Sport Face Sunscreen from Birchbox and  HeyHoney’s 24seven moisturizing creme from my last IPSY Bag – it feels like you’re soaking in creme.

What are some of your Summer skincare secrets? Let me know in the comments below!

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