by Julia Merrill
Our busy lives are stressful and hectic, which can take a toll on our health. Forty percent of Americans report feeling burned out at work, and 69 percent of parents report feeling stressed at home.
Even our kids are stressed, with a third reporting physical ailments, such as headaches or stomachaches, resulting from anxiety. Most women would like to reduce their stress level and improve their lives, but they frequently think it’s an issue of willpower or having more time or money to devote to their problems. It isn’t. Here are some things you can do right now, to make your life better, that won’t cost much money or take up much of your valuable time.
Prioritize Your Health
If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re going to get sick. Stress contributes to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. Neglecting your health means you could be walking around with a ticking time bomb, waiting to go off and derail your life. Start today by committing to stay healthy.
The Three Basics Of Self-Care
You’re going to nourish yourself with a healthy diet. You’re going to move your body every day, for at least thirty minutes. And you’re going to get a good night’s rest every evening. Give up the junk food, cut out processed foods and sugar. These create blood sugar spikes and lows that increase depression and damage immune function. Replace those empty calories with healthy fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, and heart healthy fats and nutritious proteins.
The best exercise program is one you want to stick to, so find some physical activities you enjoy, and do them every day. It doesn’t have to be all at once; you can break up your workout in three 10-minute spans, throughout the day, and it’s just as effective. Consider setting up a home gym with kettlebells, dumbbells, and a Bosu balance trainer. Or get outside and go bike riding, hiking, or swimming. Join a class and learn yoga. You can improve your physical strength and agility while mediation helps you de stress.
Regular exercise is proven to reduce stress hormones in the body. Lastly, you need to set up a bedtime and a nightly sleeping ritual. Do something to unwind and relax you. Then go to bed at the same time each night and try to rise at the same time each morning. Don’t skimp, you need at least eight hours to function at your best. Sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system, makes you less fertile and can impede memory and cognitive brain function.
Little Changes Have Big Effects
There are many small ways we can focus on our health each day. Beyond diet and exercise, you can make a point of getting outside, into the fresh air and sunlight each day. Studies show that even five minutes in a natural setting can cause measurable improvements in mood and levels of optimism. It also boosts performance of your T-cell function, helping to prevent infection.
If you can’t get outdoors, bring outside inside. Add a few plants to your living and workspaces. Studies show they improve your frame of mind and even help with indoor air quality. Or, consider adding a beautiful picture of the outdoors to your work area. Just having a natural scene to look at was shown to speed patient healing times in hospital. Beauty makes us happier, and it might just make us healthier, too.
So many times, women drain themselves by taking care of kids, work and family responsibilities while letting their own needs go by the wayside. If you aren’t your best, you can’t take the best care of the people you love. Being your best means taking good care of your own physical and mental health. A self-care regimen that helps you to stay healthy makes you a better parent, wife, friend and employee.
Give yourself permission to meet your own needs and focus on your own well-being so that you can be there for your loved ones.