My Growing Collection of Midlife Self-Care Tools
New habits come with a lot of new gear
Many years ago, my massage therapist friend told me to buy a cheap and very firm ball from a local shop. They were two for a buck. (More recently, I added an even smaller one, which I might like more.) I was counseled to roll my foot over it. I developed a new habit: Rolling my foot on that ball for two minutes most evenings while brushing my teeth.
Time ensued. Age. Trump. More aches. And then, a pandemic, which meant any care for my body had to come from me. I rummaged around and discovered a yoga strap and a foam roller from a time of injury. That was all pretty manageable. The pandemic wasn’t manageable. I added body self-care tools to my collection, in hopes I wouldn’t miss regular bi-weekly massages. A friend dropped off a big balance ball. My sister-in-law didn’t like her foam roller and offloaded it. I rolled and stretched, maybe weekly.
For me, habits take time to stick. Simultaneously, desperation grew. The corner of my bathroom had begun to fill up with gadgets. I started to run again, and found one and then another ball to help reach trigger points and knots. Having never found a self-massage tool I liked, I splurged and got our family an electric one. (Truthfully, I’m the main user). Recently, I got a manual tool that seems to work well on my neck and calves. Once my massage therapist reopened her practice, I went back, gratefully. But I’d gotten hooked on self-care tools (and reluctant stretching). Recently, the massage therapist told me, just a few days into post-Roe America, that "every woman's neck is super, super tight this week." I figured she had as good a sense of how we’re feeling in These Times as anyone.
Then, a friend mentioned her Shakti mat. I did what anyone would do trying to heal existential aches, alongside physical ones; I bought one. Now, I lie on that, too. I use at least half of these toys at least four times a week. I do have two more tabs opened on my computer; I’m pining for a hot and cold foot roller and a grooved foam roller. I’ll probably cave and get at least one of them. I may not be getting reproductive autonomy back any time soon, but I’m committed to feeling less pained while I run and live and try not to lose my hope.