‘Wash Your Face First’: Lessons in Self-care for Caregivers

‘Wash Your Face First’: Lessons in Self-care for Caregivers

For at least 30 minutes nearly every day, while buzzing along on our YMCA’s treadmill or bike, I’m captive to the machine’s built-in cable and Wi-Fi. Though we’ve gone to “the Y” for many years, I’m still fascinated that I can watch just about any program I want, provided I remember my Netflix password. YouTube, on the other hand, requires no password and offers an endless stream of both well-produced and poor quality videos.

My favorite videos to watch as I find myself hurtling along at under 4 mph into middle age are those about makeup and fashion advice. How do I put on foundation now that I have permanent dark circles under my eyes? Are blazers with tees and jeans really OK? YouTubers have answers to these questions, and many more that I never knew to ask.

Recently, I landed on an excerpt from a British TV talk show, “This Morning,” where beauty expert Caroline Hirons discussed “cleansing at any age.” One piece of wisdom she imparted caught my attention. It went something like this: “Wash your face first. Don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed. Come in the door, take off your shoes, go wash your face. Then attend to your children, dinner, whatever you need to do.”

She followed up her advice with a question: “Why would you spend time with gunk from the day on your face when you could add six hours to your evening with moisturizer on?” This was the first time I’d come across the idea that the simple act of washing my face could be a game-changer. Her message was clear: Why waste time on not taking care of yourself?

Those of us who are hemophilia caregivers have attended many sessions and received plenty of emails on the benefits of self-care — because our families need us, because we’ll be mentally and physically healthier, because hemophilia is a marathon not a sprint, and because we need to maintain our energy. These recommendations typically involve starting new habits such as journaling, but don’t take a simple act that we do each day and elevate it to the level of self-care and even beauty.

If I had known a decade ago that washing my face was “me time,” I would have gone straight to the bathroom every evening upon my return home. During every hourlong, dreadful phone call with our insurance company, I would have thought to myself, “I can totally wash my face when this is over.”

During the years of working with multiple doctors to reach a diagnosis, I could have stolen a few moments to consider what sort of cleanser would feel best and imagine how good it would feel to wash all of my frustration and sadness down the drain. I wouldn’t have wasted six or more hours each evening without wearing proper night cream, either.

Hemophilia, treadmills, face-washing, and moisturizing are all perpetual. Each may morph over time, from the type of treatment we administer for a bleed, to the speed at which we can trot on the relentless belt, or a new creamy rinse for our aging skin. As caregivers, we often find ourselves focused on our families and somewhat out of orbit when it comes to our own care. We are part of the continuous loop of hemophilia.

What will you do tonight as soon as you get home?

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Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.

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