Self-Care for Women

Health, Home & Family
on December 25, 2005

Women wear many hats as mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, students and workers. More than 59 percent of America’s women are in the labor force, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women juggle careers and family activities as they scurry from their offices to PTA meetings and church suppers.

While they have little time to spare, it’s important for women to recharge their batteries and nurture themselves emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.

Dr. Eve A. Wood, author of Medicine, Mind and Meaning: A Psychiatrist’s Guide to Treating the Body, Mind and Spirit, cites studies showing less depression, anxiety and illnesses, such as heart disease, in women who exercise regularly, eat right, get sufficient sleep and find satisfaction in their work and personal lives.

Several ideas follow to spark your thinking. Hop on the self-care bandwagon and discover ideas that ring true for you.

Boost vim and vigor
Get your zzz’s, nourishing food and regular exercise. Good hygiene, neat attire and a smile enhance your looks and mood.

Pamper your health
A dental checkup, well-woman examination and prompt attention to medical conditions reap big rewards.

Treat yourself with respect and compassion
Don’t listen to negative people or critical messages. If you need to lose or gain weight, ask for help from friends, family or a nutritionist. If you’re struck in self-destructive behaviors, don’t get down on yourself. Consult caring clergy or a therapist and attend a 12-step program.

"There’s always help; there’s always hope," Wood says. If one method doesn’t work, keep on searching."

The longest journey starts with one small step. Be willing to head in a new direction and do something a little differently.

Time out for fun
Watch a favorite movie, play with a pet or create a scrapbook of fun-filled memories. When you laugh heartily, it triggers endorphins, a substance in your brain that creates a sense of ease.

"When I’m out kayaking, I can let go of everyday concerns," says Mary Anne Civiok of Beulah, Mich. "Out on the lake I reconnect with my creative mind. I come up with new ideas, as well as get great exercise. Kayaking also provides me with a very spiritual time."

Expand your mind
Experts agree that stretching your mind and mental capacities slows aging. Learn to paint, play the piano or speak a foreign language. Take an investment or financial planning course. Financial independence increases peace of mind. Go on a weekend getaway or spontaneously take a new route home. A change of scene can spice things up.

Spend quality time with a friend
Attentive listening enriches relationships and adds joy to life.

"Humans, by their very nature, are social beings," says Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, author of 101 Exercises for the Soul: A Divine Workout Plan for Body, Mind and Spirit. "They need support and interactions with other people on their journey through life."

Don’t expect to be a superwoman
Say no to perfectionism, criticism, procrastination, petty grievances and gossip. Do chores promptly and appreciate progress. Know when to say "no" to extra jobs and relegate responsibilities.

Get organized
Simplify home, office and personal life to create more time for yourself. Set priorities and attack cluttered schedules and spaces.

Communicate your thoughts
When you express your needs, wants, values and boundaries clearly, it saves time and energy and makes you feel good about yourself.

Reserve time for simple pleasures
When you witness a beautiful sunset, have a good cry or laugh or hug a loved one, it lifts your spirits and improves your total well-being. So get out there and live!