Happy New Year: Cheers to Stronger Mental and Physical Health in 2024

My parents will tell you I’ve been a worrier my whole life. I worried about coloring out of the lines as a child or not getting straight As through high school and college — not because my parents pressured me — but because of an intrinsic push to be perfect. If anything, my folks wanted me to take days off from school to rest or do something fun. As I grew older, I worried about crowds (where are the exits in case of an emergency?), money (how do I make more?), and time (as in being on time), but never my personal safety. Weird, right?Krill family

When I started dating my handsome and charismatic wheel-chairing husband, he managed a lot of adaptive volunteer ski and snowboard instructors in a very tiny space. I would bring my book to visit him at work and sit beneath his desk to stay out of the fray. When I married him and we had children, my worries escalated around buffet lines at weddings or parties at people’s houses I hadn’t been to before. How will we get inside? Are there levels? Will we need help? Do we trust our kids to stick close by while we navigate the situation?

Last month I turned 49 years old. I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed before even when I was nine months pregnant with both children. When I was a competitive athlete, I scheduled exercise into my day. It was as much for my mental health as physical. I realize a lot of moms and dads are in my position because of raising our children and that taking precedence over so much of any “free time” after work. But heart trouble, cancer, and strokes run in my family, and, if I want to be here for any of the people I love and care for on a daily basis, I need to make myself a priority. I need to return to the time when I scheduled exercise and held that time honorably.                                                                                                                       

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Geoff means well, but he doesn’t understand why I like to be by myself (or just alone with our dog) some days for bike rides or hikes. He likes to exercise together, and while that is fun at times, I don’t allow myself just the chance to breathe and be okay with the choice to be alone. To take care of myself. To reflect on what we did well as parents or failed at miserably over the course of the week. As a teacher, I talk and am patient all day with other people’s children. It’s no wonder I’m tired. I envy some of my friends — meaning the ones who do an extra nice job of taking care of themselves, their personal needs, their exercise time, their self-care, the ones away on ladies’ trips, or the spa.

But the key for us all, especially caregivers, is to find the balance: the right amount of time, pressure, and space away from the stress of daily life, not to be deemed as selfish by the judging universe around us, but to see the mental health component as important as a healthy diet and exercise and time spent with loved ones.

This is the year, 2024, when I will turn half a century old. I am not looking for the body I had at 25; rather, I want to take better care of the one I maintain right now. More importantly, New Year’s is the perfect time to reflect on the past year as well as the one coming to us. Please remember to take care of yourself — the body, the mind, and the soul as one does not function effectively without rest. Happy New Year!

About the Author - Heather Krill

Heather Krill is a writer- wife- teacher- mom, living in northern New Hampshire with her husband Geoff, a paraplegic adventure athlete, and two tweenagers, a son and daughter aged 13 and 12. A high school teacher and coach for 26 years, Heather has been a blogging contributor for six years.

Heather Krill

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10,000,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.