Self Care: Put Yourself First, Exercise, Know Yourself.
Who is Taking Care of You?
Something funny happened over the past decade or so; people began thinking that they had to put others ahead of themselves. This is especially true of women. They began putting their partner, significant other, friends, and kids, job – just about everyone and everything except themselves – first. Somewhere along the line women began thinking that loving others meant forgetting about themselves.
While some may think that this is perfectly ‘ok,” it isn’t. You have to put yourself first.
Here’s why: if you don’t put yourself first; if you don’t take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually, you won’t be much good to anyone else. You have to take care of you.
That means a more physically fit you, a more enlightened you, a happier you, a healthier you – and a better you.
Women today are confronted by so many different stressors it’s taking its toll on their bodies. This includes work-related stress – managing one or more jobs, family and relationship stress, raising children stress, trying to balance work, career and family life stress, hey – the list goes on and on. The entire concept of nourishing yourself goes away completely. Your fitness and wellness priorities are put on hold.
And all of that stress raises the body’s cortisol level, which in turn does damage to the body’s systems. So in addition to most probably being unhappy dealing with all of the stress, women are also becoming unhealthy as well. And it’s mostly through no fault of theirs.
Things Are Changing
Fortunately, everyone is beginning to realize that women’s health, nutrition and fitness are suffering. Companies are starting to take on this problem with products and services designed from a woman’s perspective. Everything from A to Z is being reevaluated, whether it’s groceries, healthier eating, fitness programs, managing finances, healthcare, home maintenance and so much more. Women are being offered remote job opportunities, additional time for family, or even additional time for themselves.
That’s a start, and things are changing. But the real change has to come from within.
Women need to stop abandoning their needs and feelings, and start loving themselves. Women need to practice self-compassion, and give up the anxiety, guilt, depression and loneliness.
Emotional Health Comes First
Many women fail to love themselves emotionally, so they substitute exercise or meditation or dieting to make up for the void. How many women do you see at health clubs or on running trails, day after day? Have you tried to get into a fitness or yoga class lately? They’re overbooked.
And when women don’t love themselves emotionally, the pay the price, which includes depression, anxiety, anger – even addiction or relationship problems. Without self-love on an emotional level, instead of simple self-care, women suffer.
So What Is Emotional Self-Love?
First, you have to recognize your particular needs. Once you know your needs, you’ll be able to take care of them with love and attention – which comes from within.
You also need to embrace your feelings, and be open to what those feelings are telling you. If you’re willing to do that, you’re taking responsibility for your feelings. That’s a major step forward.
Self-love is also seeing yourself through your own eyes, rather than letting others define you and define your worth. Forgot about other people's’ attention or approval. Let go of trying to get love or attention to define your happiness or worth.
Unfortunately, women are finding less and less time to explore themselves because they’re too busy managing other people’s lives. Whether you’re also the mom and the spouse and the breadwinner, there is simply not enough time in the day to take care of your own emotional needs. You end up feeling guilty, or you’re anxious and stressed. That’s why experts are saying you need to take a portion out of the day for “me time” – and this is especially true for women.
It’s actually easier than it sounds. If you simply set aside a specific time, only 5 or 10 minutes a day, and relax or meditate without anyone around, you’ll recharge your energy. Learn how to do relaxing breathing, or take up yoga. This small chunk of “me time” each day will bring you inner peace if you practice it religiously.
Others Want To See You Happy, Too
All of the effort and energy that you give to others, all the love you bestow on the people you care most about is wonderful. And it’s very much appreciated by those people. But if you’re not doing the same for you; if you’re not investing that same love and energy in yourself, then you’re going to suffer. By only giving some of that love and energy to yourself, people don’t see you at your very best. Ultimately it will impact your relationships in a negative manner.
The significant people in your life want to see you happy. But all the love and attention you give to others depletes your own energy, and there’s not much left for your own self-nourishment. You need to replenish your self love on a daily basis, in order to maintain the balance you need in your life.
Why does this impact most women? Simple: women are so busy nurturing their family, kids, co-workers and others they have less and less time to connect with or nurture themselves. It’s time to take care of yourself, and have the inner love and continent that you are so busy giving others.
You’ll be happier, and so will the people you care so much about.
Start With The Foods You Eat
Lots of women will tell you they’re emotional eaters – that they eat in response to the various stresses in their lives. But to maintain a healthy body, healthy eating must become a priority. Instead of simply providing a nourishing, healthy diet for others, they have to take care of themselves as well.
This starts with eating healthier foods. Rather than letting a poor or unhealthy diet add stress to an already stressful life, having a plan on using what is considered “good food” is a key.
Consider switching to organic foods, as it is a healthier diet. You’ll find a ton of information on the Internet on eating a balanced, healthy diet. This includes the amount of fat, carbs, protein and processed sugars you eat. The Internet is also a wealth of healthy recipes, cooking tips and ways to substitute “good foods” for the bad ones that are so prevalent.
One helpful trick used by lots of women includes keeping a journal of what you eat. Once you see a picture of what you consume each day, you’ll be able to gradually eliminate the bad choices from your diet.
Add Exercise To Your Daily Routine
Ok, we’re all guilty of promising ourselves to get physically fit, and then giving up on it almost as fast as we start it. The fact is time is our enemy when it comes to exercising. You’re already overburdened with work, family, cooking, kids, and so much more, but if you’re really going to take care of yourself, you have to be physically fit as well.
The other issue is that what might be good for one person in terms of exercise might not work for another. We all have different body types, weight issues and fitness deficits, so there’s not “one size fits all plan” for exercise. It varies from person to person.
As long as you know what your goals are, and what areas of your body need improvement, you can devise an fitness plan that works specifically for you. Jut be sure that you include some time each and every day to exercise. This is for you – and nobody else. You deserve this time each day!
We’re not talking about running marathons or getting into sculpted abs and biceps. We’re simply talking about staying healthy and fit. Work within your limits, but try to push yourself past those limits slowly. If pumping iron isn’t your thing, try something else. Walking is good for cardiovascular health as well as weight loss or maintenance. There’s Pilates to stretch muscles, Yoga, Zumba – the list goes on and on. The good news is you can find something that matches your interests as well as your fitness levels.
Consider exercising with friends, or join a group or class where you can get fit with other women. Meeting others is an added benefit, and having others to work out with is a motivator to show up when it’s time to exercise!
The physical benefits of exercise are many, and you probably already know a lot of them: better health, reducing health risk factors, lowering your blood pressure and gaining a toned body. But physical benefits are only one aspect of a good fitness and exercise program.
The Emotional Benefits Of Exercising
While nobody can say you’ll be happier if you exercise regularly, you probably will be. Surveys have shown people tend to rate themselves as “happier” when they do exercise more often than when they don’t.
So what are the emotional benefits of a regular exercise program?
When you exercise, your body produces a higher level of endorphins, the naturally occurring brain chemical that improves your mood. After a consistent period of exercise, those endorphins will help to reduce your anxiety and depression, while elevating your mood.
And that’s just for starters. When you begin feeling better physically from exercise, your emotions will benefit as well. Regular exercise will help you sleep better, have more stamina and energy and have an increased self-esteem. You’ll appreciate how you look physically, which will serve as a positive reinforcement.
You’ll be able to focus on the tasks at hand, as the endorphins in your body will help to boost your concentration skills. Plus, many studies show that an ongoing exercise program will provide you with improved performance while on the job. It’s a win-win situation for you.
Additional Benefits Of Exercise
In addition to physical and emotional benefits, you’ll enjoy social benefits as well. Once your self-esteem improves and you’re feeling better physically, you’ll find yourself reaching out to others. That’s from your enhanced self-confidence, which will help you to make new friends. You may find others who enjoy the exercises that you enjoy, like walking, jogging or yoga.
You’ll also have a feeling of accomplishment. Women who regularly exercise say that they have more control over their lives, and because it’s on a consistent basis, they feel a strong sense of accomplishment that they’ve been able to manage their time and do something that is good for themselves.
Here is one unexpected benefit of regular exercise: healthier skin. It appears that sweating during exercise helps to clean out the pores, which brings a healthier tone to the skin. And skin isn’t the only part of your body that will have unexpected benefits: your eyes will appear healthier as well. Plus, studies have shown that regular exercise will help to lower the risk of developing glaucoma. One study in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science stated that regular exercise could lower the risk of developing glaucoma by 25%.
For women suffering from migraines, exercise may be your best weapon. A study published in the journal, Caphalagia, reported that regular physical exercise could prevent migraines as well as drugs or relaxation therapy. While this was a small study, others are underway and research points to exercise as a treatment for migraines.
Finally, life expectancy of those who exercise is 3 years longer than those who do not exercise on a regular basis. Considering all of the other benefits that exercise offers you, this is just icing on the “birthday” cake.
Whether it’s healthier eating, diet, exercise, meditation or other forms of health and relaxation, the point is to take care of yourself before you expend all that energy taking care of everyone else in your life. You’ll be happier, healthier and will perform better at work, at home and will enjoy life to its fullest.