By Caitlin Busada, MD | Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport
Put down the to-do list, ladies. It’s time to focus more on you, your health, and your physical, mental and emotional well-being. With the constantly growing workload we carry, whether that’s from a career, being a parent or caregiver, or from the stresses of everyday life – it may seem like there’s no room or time for taking care of you. It’s important to prioritize your health and remember that in the busy and bustle of your week, self-care shouldn’t be considered an option. Here are seven simple ways to squeeze self-care into your schedule:
Drink more water. This is such a simple habit to implement and has so many benefits. Keeping your water bottle filled up and staying hydrated with fluids can boost your beauty and skin health, help improve focus, help maintain blood pressure, help with weight loss, and boost performance.
Breathe. Breathing, slowly and concretely can lift your mood and even improve your memory. Taking deep breaths can improve your reaction to stress and allow you to create space for emotional response. Women tend to put their own needs on the back burner while letting others come first. Schedule some “me time” to reboot with focused breathing.
Enjoy some sunshine. Being outside can make you feel calmer, sharpen your thinking, and boost your mood. Exposure to sunlight is good for mental health triggering the release of serotonin, giving your brain the right hormones to allow you to feel at ease and focused.
Sweat it out. Exercise isn’t just for weight-loss. It has many other positive benefits and has been proven to help with depression and anxiety. Finding 20-30 minutes to move your body, in your hectic schedule has never been easier in a time when everything has gone virtual. There are tons of online workouts you can stream, or classes you can join. Find something and get that heartbeat up!
Unplug from screen time. If you’re someone who works from a desk all day, turning off the phone or tv in the evenings may be just what the doctor ordered. So much of our day is spent in front of a screen. Take time to be present, and tune into the people around you, or just enjoy some quiet time for yourself.
Meditate. Women are the world’s best at multitasking – or at least trying. So, it goes without saying that while we may be doing one thing, our mind is probably doing another. Often, our brains are working in overdrive, running 100 miles per hour with thoughts and reminders of things to do or accomplish. It’s necessary to allow yourself to pause, shut out the world and let your mind rest. Meditation doesn’t have to take 30 minutes of your day. You can do it from your office chair several times a day for five minutes or less. Mediation can help control anxiety, enhance self-awareness, promote emotional health, and improve sleep.
Make Your Healthcare a Priority. Far too often, women focus so much on the health and well-being of others at the expense of their own. Make sure your pap smears, mammograms, and colonoscopies are up to date. Set aside time to complete your annual wellness check-ups, and talk to your doctor about any issues you may be having. Your body and health are the main vessels that drive your happiness and wellbeing, and they must be maintained and taken care of at all costs. At times these simple check-ups can be tempting to put on hold or reschedule, yet they are so crucially important to detect and prevent any problems in the future.
Giving yourself a break and integrating these simple actions into your routine will go a long way toward good health. Self-care is not selfish, remember that. Women’s health is not something to focus on one time a year at your annual well-woman exam. It’s something to prioritize every single day. It is also important to have good communication with your OB/GYN provider, and let your doctor know of any concerns you may have.