Life Changing Self-Care

Guest blogger contribution by Lyndal Stewart

My corporate life taught me to be a sharp, quick business woman with a tough exterior. This world taught me to keep my emotions buried and how to call a spade a spade when it was needed. This meant when things got irritating I would speak my mind. I was angry and at work and god help me if you were standing in front of me at the time. 

My anger controlled me and could boss me around anytime it felt like it. Odd for someone who likes to be in control to actually be out of control and not even realise! Thanks to mindfulness I'm now fully aware of what's going on!  I'd never totally let it get the better of me, but the volume and pitch of my voice told everyone where I was at. 
Having my own therapy forced me to start being mindful and practicing self care. When my therapist told me about self care I thought he was critizing me. Was my hair not brushed? Did I smell? Could he visibility see I wasn't taking care of myself? I didn't feel like i wasn't but clearly I just didn't understand what he meant by self care. It actually took me years after this therapy to realise what he really meant. Self care is simply prioristing my self at the top of the list for at least some hours in the week. Used to putting my husband and everything else first, this was a foreign concept to me. When I first started walking and meeting up with friends as part of my self care  I carried a huge amount of guilt. I shouldn't be here doing this, I should be at work, at home or with my husband. Slowly and over time the guilty feeling started to subside and I started to find myself and truly understanding the meaning of self care. 
Although I was this successful business woman who loved control and order, I had let it control and consume me with everything and everyone coming first, except me. My health suffered and as a result I ignored hereditary testing I should have had years earlier. Thank god I had started practicing self care when I did, otherwise i never would have got the colonoscopy that potentially saved my life. When the doctor told me if I hadn't come in when I did I would have had 1 year before full blown Bowel Cancer, I knew I had dodged a bullet. I now have annual colonoscopy screens of which none have been clear.  I am so thankful I sought therapy.
I also practice mindfulness. Another thing I really did not understand. I have learnt the art of mindfulness through helping the Autistic lad I caregive for with my husband. His behavioural therapist taught the both of us. Through learning how to understand first how i feel about a situation, what I'm thinking and having an action plan for situations where I may be at risk, I have been able to control my anger. In fact I can't remember the last time I was really angry, it's been years. I now have the strength to tell others if they need help and give them the gift of the knowledge and tools I have learnt through my only therapy and self care. Just remember, It's never too late to look after yourself.