As women, we tend to put our needs last – after all of the family members, pets, friends and others! We think we can juggle it all – being virtual Super Woman pretending that we’re not stressed out and all is copacetic.
But is this impractical balancing act really good for us? Don’t we need to take some time for ourselves to replenish, relax and rejuvenate?
The answer is a resounding, “YES!” Many studies have shown that when we increase our stress levels, we increase our body’s production of cortisol, the stress hormone, leading to increased risks for cancer, heart disease and diabetes, among many other serious health conditions.
Despite the fact that we might know this, why don’t we take time to care for ourselves?
Well, I’ve heard lots of excuses.
“There’s just not enough time.”
“I don’t deserve it.”
And many more…
Yet, in the end, we know it’s true. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, we will have nothing left for others. I see women every day in my office, denying themselves of needed time off only to spend time taking care of others. Yes, we need to help our families, friends, etc. But at what cost? Our bodies send us wake-up calls, starting with faint whispers culminating in stentorian cries for help. We need to take heed and listen to what our bodies are telling us. We need time off and we DESERVE it!
Is Self- Care “selfish?”
Absolutely not! Our bodies are our special palace and we need to treat them with ultimate respect. Our minds and spirits need to be nourished on a daily basis. We need to soak in the positive and release the negative.
After researching various self-care articles, I’ve compiled my top seven favorites.
Seven Tips for Self-Care
1) Take 5 minutes each morning to stretch and breathe. Starting your day with silence and ease will make the rest of the day much less stressful. Simply doing a one-minute breathing exercise can start your day with inspiration and positive energy.
One-minute breathing exercise: Breathe in for 5 seconds, then exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat for a total of 6 times – yes, that equals one minute! I’ve heard that exhaling for a slighter longer period of time – like 6-8 seconds activates our parasympathetic nervous systems – bringing forth even more relaxing and calming thoughts.
This one-minute breathing technique can be used throughout the day – while waiting in line, at a stoplight or while driving (especially in traffic!).
2) Eat healthy and green food. Watch what you are putting into your body. Are you feeding it fresh fruits, vegetable and lean protein – or choosing to eat highly processed food? Remember your body is your palace – treat it like one!
3) Take 10-15 minutes mini-breaks during the day. Your body and brain need to refuel. You cannot stay focused all of the time. Get up from your chair, walk outside and get some breaths of fresh air. This change of scenery, change in physical posture and movement will make it easier to start when your break is over.
4) Surround yourself with inspiring photos. Place photos of your favorite trips, happy family pictures or playful pics of your pets. You’ll smile when you see them and increase your body’s production of oxytocin – the bonding hormone- which also produces a sense of calm and happiness.
5) Wear your “pretty” clothes. Stop saying, “Someday, I’ll wear that outfit.” Why wait? Wear it now….and if it doesn’t fit, take a photo of it and put in on your refrigerator to motivate you to go to the gym. Make a pledge to yourself to start eating better and caring for your body.
6) Schedule “me time”. Life can be chaotic and it is a good practice to actually schedule a time on your Google calendar, daytime planner, etc. to get a massage, a facial or go for a walk in the park/on the beach. Please block this time off – and don’t let it be erased or eliminated by other obligations. Honor your “me time” just as much as an appointment with anyone else.
7) Honor Your Limits. We need to realize that we are not Super-Women – although we like to think we are. The “To-Do” list will always be there waiting for you. Set a time limit for each task, then say to yourself, “Time is up, I’m DONE”.
I hope that these tips make your life more enjoyable and less
Remember - Your health and well-being are of paramount importance.
Many of those around you, including yourself, will be thankful that you did!