In my household, a typical morning goes something like this: I get up and jump into action — cleaning the kitchen, cooking breakfast for my kid and starting the laundry. My husband rolls out of bed, makes coffee and tunes out on his computer checking email. When I ask him if he’s fed the dog, his answer is always, “Not yet.” So, inevitably, I feed Max and my fat cat, and then finally make myself a cup of tea, having already worked up a sweat and accomplished at least five things. And then I head off to work. My point in telling you all of this is that I truly believe most women are innately caregivers and nurturers who often put others before themselves. It’s in our DNA. We have to keep the fire going, protect our offspring and maintain a home — all before 8 a.m.!
Having said that, it’s especially important for females to make sure they are taking care of themselves, as we are a new generation of super women who are trying to do it all — work, raise children, serve the community, invest in our marriages or relationships, maintain our friendships, create sanctuaries to live in, care for aging parents and more. I am exhausted from just writing that past sentence.
The key is to find time for yourself and invest daily in your own personal wellness. It’s a powerful weapon against stress, mental fatigue and burnout — whether you are a stay-at-home mom, ambitious working girl, struggling artist, caregiver or CEO. Focusing on the following three pillars of wellness makes self-care a priority and an easy integration into your daily routine.
Mindfulness means bringing your attention to the present and living in the moment. It’s being aware of your surroundings and consciously observing without judgment. Mindfulness can help us gain insight and awareness into ourselves. Mediation as a morning ritual can create a sense of calm and mindfulness that you can carry on throughout the day. It also bolsters you with a sense of, “I can handle what life tosses at me.” Works for me.
Another portal to mindfulness can be found by keeping a gratitude journal and penning three things you appreciate each night before bed. Reminding ourselves of all the positive wonders around us is a healthy tonic for the soul. As spiritualist Eckhart Tolle says, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
You can also practice mindfulness while doing simple tasks — such as gardening, soaking in a hot bath or eating a meal — by staying fully present in the moment and disregarding the deluge of distractions.
In this day and age, many of us are sitting way too much, with our eyes glued to our computers, so it’s essential to get the blood flowing and drink in the beauty of nature. Rather than dreading exercise, it should be a treasured break and gift to the self. A personal trainer once said to me, “Plan on exercising every day, and be happy when it happens 4 or 5 times a week, as life sometimes gets in the way.”
Find a workout partner so you will be more committed — whether it’s a beach walk, boot camp, bike ride, yoga class or hike. Even an evening stroll or walk through the farmer’s market counts. The truth is — you’re always one workout away from a good mood — as exercise floods us with endorphins and a sense of accomplishment.
Taking the approach that food is fuel and an effective way to nurture and heal your body leads to conscious eating. It’s so important to listen to your body and understand how foods affect you in either positive or negative ways. Eat whole foods, opt for organic products to decrease your pesticide load, and take vitamins and supplements to complement your diet.
When I interview doctors and wellness experts, there seems to be a recurring preventive theme: fish oil, turmeric and vitamin D. So many of us are low in vitamin D, even those of us living in sunny places, so make sure to ask your doctor to test your levels.
Another key component to overall health and wellness is sleep so that your body can process and absorb those nutrients and vitamins. If you find yourself having trouble getting rest or your monkey brain won’t turn off at night, valerian is a natural, sedative medicinal herb that can reduce insomnia and help induce sleep, and it’s been used for centuries.
Self-care means creating a wellness plan and taking the time to focus on YOU. And while most women will continue to perform superhuman tasks, finding the time to nurture the self is imperative. Preventive medicine is a key to longevity and daily health, so what are you waiting for?
Journalist Ann Wycoff has written about wellness, fitness, longevity, travel, spas, food and wine for the past 20 years for magazines like Shape, Fitness, Spa, Outside, Travel + Leisure, Coastal Living, Redbook, Modern Luxury, San Diego Magazine, Redbook, Marin Magazine and more. She lives in Encinitas, California.