Updated: Feb 1
You may be the matriarch of your family and a born caretaker, but failure to care for yourself can put you in a rut that you can’t claw your way out of. Keep reading for advice from and for real women on how to prioritize your personal health and wellness so your daily grind doesn’t become a state of mind.
The top 4 ways to put YOU first:
Feed yourself well
Think about how much time you spend each day preparing food for your family. It’s likely that you wind up skipping breakfast or dinner at least a few times during the week in an effort to make sure everyone else’s plate is filled and their drinks don’t go empty. It’s time to put that same amount of effort into your own nutritional needs. Women’s bodies need a different kind of fuel than our male counterparts. This is especially true if you’ve already celebrated the big 4-0 and are getting ready to face issues such as osteoporosis and menopause. If necessary, find supplements to help compensate for what your diet may be lacking.
Get off the couch
No one would deny you a weekend Netflix binge, but you should spend more time off the sofa than on it. Exercise is especially important for women, since the amount of physical activity we receive directly affects our hormones and even self-esteem.
First, and most obviously, exercise will help you lose weight. But it will also keep your heart and lungs healthy and give you a natural boost of endorphins that can kick stress to the curb. Patch contributor Rachel Miller shares more wisdom on the reasons exercise is important to women’s health. If a gym isn’t your jam and you’re lacking space at home to work out, a great birthday or Mother’s Day gift idea would be your own fitness space or even some equipment. No space? Ask for a handyman to help make it happen with a few walls and some shelving. In Orlando, you can expect to spend between $174-$624 for smaller projects.
Consider it a worthwhile investment in your long-term health.
Get comfortable in bed
Ideally, you should spend at least seven hours each night tucked under the sheets, so make sure that time counts. In addition to investing in a good mattress, you will also need a pillow that matches your sleep style. Keep in mind that pillows are not a one-size-fits-all addition to your nighttime routine. Forbes explains that side sleepers need extra support than those who say goodbye to the day on their backs. There are many different types of pillows (memory foam, down, latex, and more), so do your research before making an investment – pillows can be expensive, but they are worth it. This is especially true if you have a good mattress, yet still wake up with a crick in your neck and a headache telling you to stay in bed.
Invest in your mental health
Getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising can go a long way toward enhancing your physical health, but you must also take steps to ensure your mental health stays on track. Women are under so much pressure that it’s easy to miss the signs that it’s become too much.
The Body is Not an Apology, an online magazine targeted to women, explains that women often suffer with what it dubs an overabundance of emotional labor. Constantly taking care of children, trying to live up to society’s expectations of the perfect female, and fighting to fit into a man’s world in the workplace can easily drag your mind and body into a dark place.
Don’t be afraid to spend some time alone, whether you spend it doing something as simple as reading a good book or as luxurious as taking a solo, weekend-long sabbatical. Anything you can do to give your mind and body a bit of respite will help you hit the ground running when it’s time to get back to the grind.
As a woman, you are expected to stay strong for everyone else. It’s time to use some of that strength to hold yourself up.
Get your sleep, eat well, exercise, and give your mind an opportunity to seek reprieve.
These self-care activities aren’t occasional acts.
Take care of yourself every day, and you’ll be a better person from the inside out.
This post is from contributing writer Julia Merrill.
Julia is a retired board certified nurse practitioner. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to close the gap between medical providers and their patients.
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