Self Care for the Women You Love

Kicking off on Mother’s Day (May 14), the 18th annual Women’s Health Week is led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. The goal? To empower women to make their health a priority, and to encourage women to take steps to engage in radical self care. Now that’s something we can get behind.

Studies show that women who exercise regularly, eat right, get sufficient sleep and find satisfaction in their work and personal lives have a lower incidence of depression, anxiety and illnesses, such as heart disease.

But where to start? Most women we know are busy working, caring for their families, looking after their homes and finances…the list goes on.

The good news is that even the simplest of activities can go a long way toward caring for #1:

* Exercise: Do whatever feels good to you. Even 10 minutes of stretching can have amazing benefits for your body and mind. According to the experts, we should be gunning for 30 minutes of physical activity most days–more if you want/need to lose weight.

* Sleep: Seven to eight hours/night is considered optimal. Signs your not getting enough sleep? You’re always hungry, your memory is shot, you’re more impulsive/easily irritated, your emotions are all over the place, and you catch every cold that blows your way. To set yourself up for a good night’s sleep, avoid ALL screens for at least an hour before bedtime.

* Breathe: Spend 5 minutes a day, inhaling and exhaling, slowly and deeply. It’s amazing how something so simple can make you feel SO much more relaxed.

* Eat more real, whole foods: Shoot for an 80/20 style of eating. You don’t have to be good all of the time; just most of the time! (While you’re tweaking habits, why not try something new altogether. If you’re a meat eater, start planning Meatless Mondays. If you don’t eat meat, tweak some other area of your diet–swap coffee for matcha; start the day with an antioxidant-rich drink or a plant-based protein packed smoothie.)

Get Your Check up
And don’t overlook perhaps the most basic of all self-care activities: your annual well-woman check up, one good way to ensure you stay healthy and disease free. May 15 is National Women’s Check Up Day. If you can’t see your doctor by then, at least schedule your appointment for a month or two down the road. And take this checklist when you go; it’s a good reminder of the kinds of things to share and/or ask of your doc.

Once you’ve tackled your medical physical, look at some other ways to prioritize yourself, and feel great, body, mind and spirit. Check out this blog post on www.tinybuddha.com for a whole bunch of ways to kick start a new self-care regime. Ease into it by picking one activity from each category. When you get really good at those, add another three. Before you know it, true self care will be part of everything you do.

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