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Like most things do, it slowly snuck up on me.
There were a few warning signs, but I am not that observant.
I had noticed I wanted and needed more naps to stay alert, but I was just thinking naps were one of my best friends.
I had noticed I had less energy, but after all I am no spring chicken. I also reasoned I was also doing more. And I could still do hard things, like hike 14 miles on the continental divide in less than 7 hours.
I had noticed I seemed to be shedding a bit more hair. But I reasoned it was spring, and I usually shed more every spring.
2 weeks later I was getting my hair cut. At the end of the session my stylist pulled his stool up and sat down to face me.
“I am a little worried,” he said. “You are shedding more hair than normal. If I were you, I would get this checked out by a doctor. My mom was shedding lots of hair and it turned out to be her thyroid.”
I was now sitting up and listening.
I saw my doctor two days later. She ran some blood tests and it turned out my thyroid was fine, but I was low on iron. Very low. And yes, hair loss can be one of the symptoms of low iron. I was suffering from anemia, caused by low iron levels. Low energy, hair loss, and being sleepy and some of the symptoms.
Every few years I get blood work done, but because my doctor had never checked my iron, so it had slipped by unnoticed.
Thankfully, 4 months of taking a high dose of iron had my iron levels back on track. I noticed I had more energy and don’t need to take naps anymore.
Ladies, sometimes we are so busy taking care of everyone else, that we forget self-care—taking care of ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves, or we can’t take care of others.
I know life is busy. And getting to the doctor can seem like another chore in a long line of to-do’s, but we need to make it a priority. We need to buckle down and not let things slowly slide until we are having real big problems.
Here is what I wish an older woman had told my younger self:
1. Get baseline tests in your 30’s, but especially by your 40’s. Test your thyroid, vitamin D, iron, and hormones. Get a lipid profile to check cholesterol. Get pap smears. Don’t forget skin checks for moles and skin cancer. Test for diabetes. Get your vision checked. Get a mammogram. Schedule regular dental check-ups. Don’t forget to have your blood pressure and heart health checked.
Also talk to your doctor about other tests you may need.
The goal is to see what your numbers are when you are healthy and feeling good. Then when you recheck later, you will know how far your levels have dropped or risen and you can take action before things get so low you are exhibiting many of the symptoms of something.
Some of these tests may cost a little out of pocket money, but remember they are to determine your baseline when healthy. For example, you want a baseline of your hormones before you enter menopause.
2. Address your mental health. Emotional and psychological issues creep back to the surface if they are ignored and not dealt with. This means we have to deal with past loses, abuse, trauma, unhealthy relationships, and more, or they will eventually affect our current life and patterns of acting and thinking.
This may mean talking to a close friend, seeing a therapist, seeking out a psychologist’s help. Several times in my life I have benefited from seeing psychologists. Both individually, as a couple, and as a family. They provide a new perspective and help us better understand our self and others. They can help us find new ways of dealing with patterns and obstacles we have given up on ever changing.
3. Study yourself. Discover who you are and what brings you joy and sadness. Learn your faults and good traits. Are you a people pleaser, perfectionist, an optimist, encourager, problem solver, an introvert or night owl? We are better able to change for the better when we are aware of what we need to change. And likewise, we appreciate our wonderful and unique self if we know what we are good at and enjoy.
4. Exercise. I know it is hard. But walk a little. Dance in the kitchen. Garden. Do squats while the pasta is boiling. Run up the stairs. The goal is to move. And to move in different ways.
5. Form meaningful relationships. Make friendship a priority. Friends to do things with. Friends to share good and bad with. Friends that will listen to you and help when hard times hit.
6. Learn about menopause long before it hits. Read about it. Talk to older women. Discuss the symptoms and treatments. Find out all you can so you are prepared. It’s kinda like childbirth. Everyone’s experience is a little different, but there are enough commonalities that overlap that you won’t be the only one going through what you are experiencing.
7. Engage in self-care. All the above is taking care of yourself. Now add a few other ways to care for yourself and nurture your soul. Like quiet time each day. Drinking your favorite tea. Reading. Calling a friend. Sleeping on your favorite sheets. Painting. A girl’s night out. Playing the flute. (As we are all different, your self-care will look different than other women’s self-care.)
8. Learn to love yourself. Realize your worth. Whose you are. And how valuable you are. Deal with your insecurities and critical voice. Replace lies with His truth. For when we are less hard on our self, we are less hard on those around us. And we are better able to love and care for others in the way they require or need.
9. Set boundaries. On your time, emotions, and life. Don’t let yourself get worn out by doing too much or by not saying no. Refuse to feel responsible for things you are not responsible for. Practice self-control. Remember to control what you can and leave the rest in God’s control.
When we take care of our bodies physically, emotionally, and mentally, we are doing ourselves a favor, and those around us a favor. We will have more energy. Feel better. Enjoy life more. And be better at loving and serving those around us.
Let’s commit to doing this.
I’ll take care of myself.
You take care of yourself.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.
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Join the Discussion: What do you wish your younger self had known ?