[caption id="attachment_6084" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Try these things for a healthier mind and body — and to just feel good. [Photo credit: Adobe Stock][/caption]
How do you cope with aging?
I’ve been thinking about that question since first exploring it two years ago on Next Avenue. This time, I was prompted to add to my list after a rather unusual conversation with my doctor.
Below are seven of my self-care “do’s.” What are yours?
Saying “No” to the doctor is a powerful way to step off the medical merry-go-round when you’re sick of the ride, sick of the appointments, sick of the tests and all the follow-up conversations — and sick of thinking of yourself as a patient instead of as a whole person.
Of course, I would have agreed to the tests if I thought I was putting my health in danger. But after I rebelled, even the doctor agreed that “waiting and seeing” would do no harm.
Due to an antibiotic that never should have been prescribed for me, I have a troubled Achilles tendon. Every day, I have to remember to protect it from further injury. (No more hopping over flower boxes.)
I do all the exercises that strengthen the tendon, and I sometimes play cheerleader. “The Achilles tendon,” I tell mine, “is the longest and the strongest tendon in the body. You will get better.”
Leslie Davenport, a psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area, is all for staying educated and informed. But, she adds, “The dramatic and distressing aspects of the news — whatever one’s affiliations — have many people obsessing, going far beyond what is useful or healthy.”
Turn away from the news from time to time, she says. Hey, the circus will continue without you while you go for a walk.
Also, it’s important to educate yourself beyond any brochures provided by your therapist or doctor. You may want to read Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, a science journalist with her own back pain. Spoiler alert: What finally worked for her was a multidisciplinary therapy program. Inspired by her experience, I’ve enrolled in a pain management clinic.
At 69, I need other lotions, potions, creams, unguents, oils and balms to moisturize crepey skin, soften thinning lips and hydrate brittle nails. I’m not picky; I tend to buy whatever is on sale. Plus, one circle of friends willingly shares recommendations for inexpensive skin care products. Sometimes, on holidays, we even give each other tubes of favorite hand creams as gifts.
If this advice comes a little late for you, Aaranson cautions against what podiatrists call “bathroom surgery with filthy tools.” See a doctor instead.
If your feet hurt, that’s another reason to visit a podiatrist. “Feet are not supposed to hurt,” Aaranson says. “Ever.” Plus, when you adjust your gait to protect sore feet, you can throw your hips and spine out of alignment. Remember: Everything is connected.
“I suddenly understood that my job and the tension I carried all the time was not good for my cells,” he said. He ended that phone call and proceeded to quit his job, effective immediately. That story affects me deeply to this day, and I often make decisions based on what’s good for my cells.
That’s why I spoke up at the doctor’s office when she recommended additional tests. I’m already managing a couple of health conditions, and I don’t have any interest in taking on more. At this point in my life, no matter what hurts or isn’t working quite right, it’s important to make time for joy.
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