A woman juggles with multiple roles and expectations on a daily basis. With increasing demands being put on her time and attention, self-care often gets neglected. If you are one of the many women who consider taking care of their well-being is a luxury that they cannot afford, read on.
The incidence of mental health problems among women is on the rise. Depression, anxiety and poor self-image are conditions that women are more prone to than men. One of my female counselling clients used a beautiful metaphor to describe her condition. She shared that she felt like a well out of which people were always drawing out water. She feared that soon she would run out of anything to give.
Just like a well, if not replenished, runs out of water, similarly, any individual who is only expending her resources and not adding to them, will begin to experience the effects of burnout. This includes struggling to keep up with your daily tasks, disorientation, forgetfulness, frequent fatigue and tiredness. In the short run, even though you feel tired, you believe this is in the best interest of your family or spouse or career. In reality though, by neglecting your own well-being, you are doing not only yourself injustice, but are also risking the well-being of those who depend on you.
Here are some simple tips to get you started with self-care:
Get adequate rest – An average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep daily. Health benefits of regular sleeping patterns include higher performance, enhanced memory and longer life-span. You are also more likely to be in a good mood if you are well rested and are able to make decisions more efficiently.
Learn to say No – If you find it difficult to say no, you probably take on more than you can handle. Your reasons for doing this may vary; maybe you don’t want a confrontation, or fear offending the other person, or you really want to help. This can lead to a lot of stress as well as guilt, if you are struggling to complete the expected tasks. An important aspect of taking care of yourself is to be able to realistically assess how much you will be able to handle, and to assertively refuse what is beyond your capacity.
Ask for help – There is no shame in asking for help. If you are feeling overworked, don’t hesitate to reach out to family members to lend you a hand. In most cases, asking is all it takes. People who care about you will be happy to help you out. In case this is not an option, consider hiring help to ease your burden.
Eat healthy – Apart from having the right amounts and nutrients, it is essential that you have your meals at regular intervals. Adding salads, fruits and vegetables to your meals gives you the nutrients necessary for warding off a number of physical ailments. A balanced diet and the appropriate intake of nutrients and fibres keeps you fit, giving you more energy to cope with the demands of a hectic life.
Take time out for yourself – Spend at least a few hours every week with yourself, either doing something you find relaxing or just reflecting on the week that’s gone by. This is not an indulgence, but an investment in nurturing your sense of identity. It will give you the opportunity to work your way through any disorienting thoughts, and allow you to be a better partner, parent, friend and above all, a calmer individual.
Get active – Physical activity boosts the release of Endorphins – which are neurotransmitters responsible for positive effects such as feeling of euphoria, modulation of appetite and an enhancement of immune response. This helps in coping better with stress. Research suggests that in addition to physiological benefits, exercise helps in clearer thinking and maintaining a more positive outlook. Start with something you can easily add to your routine, gradually increasing the time and intensity.
Eat healthy – Apart from having the right amounts and nutrients, it is essential that you have your meals at regular intervals. Adding salads, fruits and vegetables to your meals gives you the nutrients necessary for warding off a number of physical ailments. A balanced diet and the appropriate intake of nutrients and fibres keeps you fit, giving you more energy to cope with the demands of a hectic life. As a woman, you must ensure that you consume foods rich in iron and calcium.
Start out with small steps – Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of making so many changes in your routine. Start small; take your time to work out a healthier lifestyle for yourself. And even if you don’t see the effects immediately, don’t give up.