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Self Care - a great first step

by Anonymous

07 April 2018 at 13:22

Self-care - A great first step

Self care – a great first step

Working as a physiotherapist I often meet people who have had or have cancer or those who are caring for someone with cancer. I see people soldiering through treatment with their focus on completing treatment so they can get on with their lives and watched their family and friends by their side reflecting that same commitment and determination to battle through.

I have also witnessed a different approach, one that puts self-care at the centre of the process.

Women in particular, though not exclusively, have learned to look after others and they do it beautifully. From caring for our children, our partners, our aging parents and our friends in need, we are masters at putting others first and bringing care to the fore. Recognising this in myself, I was however forced recently to look at how I was living and question what in my life was out of kilter, when I was feeling exhausted all the time. I saw my level of caring for others was exceptionally high but the level of care I was bringing to myself was somewhat lower.

Self care was like a hot potato – as soon as it came towards me I threw it back out again in the form of caring for others. I was far more comfortable with this type of care than considering what truly caring for myself might look like or involve.

Sounds familiar?

It reminded me of a time I was working in an oncology ward and was talking with a patient who had just had surgery for breast cancer and was crying. She explained she no longer knew how to be with her family, she had always been the caregiver and felt she did not know how to receive the love and care that was now coming towards her. For many of us it is similar. We hold tightly onto the familiar role of caregiver and in so doing perhaps miss or avoid many opportunities to nurture ourselves.

I began to understand that we cannot truly care for others unless we fully care for ourselves first. The example of the message on the aircraft to fit your own oxygen mask before fitting those of your children is so applicable to how we choose to be in life.

Whether we have an illness such as cancer or are caring for someone, self-care is a great first step to well-being. Those little things that we do lovingly for ourselves on a daily basis, such as the way we gently dress or slip our slippers on, how we go to the toilet exactly when we need to and not put it off because we are on the phone or cooking dinner. Or how we listen to our body and rest deeply when we need to, or simply drink water when we are thirsty are all examples of great medicine.

I have witnessed others live their lives with cancer in this way, making self-care central to each day and have been touched deeply by their gentleness, their radiance and their commitment to life.

Living in this way can offer a sense of well being that comes from within despite the many and varied physical symptoms also felt.

Bringing a deeper level of self care is an act of love that can support us all to more gently navigate our way through our journey with cancer whether it is our own or in supporting another.

Registered Office: Maggie's, The Stables, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU   Registered Charity Number: SC024414
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