Women, Take Care of Yourselves
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD
As a woman, you may put the wellbeing of others first. You’re not alone. Women often give their own health short shrift because taking care of themselves seems like an added responsibility that they can skip or put off.
Ironically, when women prioritize their health, they are more productive, and better able to care for family and friends. Here are some strategies for personal well-being that will help you bring more energy to what you do every day.
Establish healthier habits
Maybe your diet and exercise routine needs a major overhaul. Perhaps it requires some tweaking. Whatever the case, don’t burden yourself by trying to make too many changes at once. You’ve got enough on your mind.
Instead, aim for one or two reasonable changes that easily fit into your daily ritual, such as adding a piece of fruit to your eating plan, taking a multivitamin, and walking more. Let one healthy habit take hold before adding others.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Burning the midnight oil saps your energy and decreases your motivation to take care of yourself.
Growing evidence suggests sleep deprivation boosts the risk of weight gain and obesity. Chronic fatigue also affects your immune system, memory, and ability to think straight, and it ups the chances for having an accident, such as falling, or falling asleep at the wheel.
Only you know how much sleep is right for you, although experts recommend about seven to eight hours of shut-eye every night for adults. Sleep patterns change with age, so you may sleep differently now than you did a decade ago. However, you know you’re well-rested when you wake up on your own (no alarm necessary) and you’re refreshed and alert for the day – a claim few busy women can make, no doubt!
According to the Mayo Clinic, constant stress threatens your health, in part because it triggers the release of the a hormone called cortisol, which may increase the risk for heart disease, digestive problems, and depression, among other conditions.
Stress is part of life; how you handle it is up to you. Chances are, you’ll never be completely stress-free, but there are ways to lessen the effects of stress on your health, including the following:
- Take frequent breaks from stressful situations
- Spend time every day doing something you truly enjoy
- Laugh as much as possible
- Get regular physical activity to release tension
- Seek the support of friends, or the help of a licensed health professional to work on chronically stressful issues.