Ask The Expert: 3 Essentials of Self-Care

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Women are notorious for spending so much time caring for others that we forget to take care of ourselves, and this pandemic is no exception. What are some healthy self-care suggestions?

Everyone has had to change the way we live, work, and care for others during this pandemic. Caring for others has become one of the single most important things we do every day—from helping our kids with schoolwork to running errands for older relatives. But where does caring for ourselves fall on our priority list?

Little

If it isn’t near the top, maybe it is time to make a shift, says Maggie Little, senior healthy living director for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.

“We are able to provide the finest care to those we love when we are feeling our best,” Little says. She suggests focusing on three areas that affect physical well-being and are essential to self-care: sleep, exercise, and nutrition.

Here are a few tips from Little to take the best care of ourselves during a time when caring for others is also important.


Sleep:
“Practice a bedtime ritual. A relaxing routine right before bedtime can promote more restful sleep. Washing your face, brushing teeth, applying lotion while listening to soothing music and then reading in bed is an example of a relaxing bedtime routine. The key here is repetition so that your body learns that it is time for sleep.”

“Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Consider the temperature of your space as well as distracting lights and noises. Generally a cool, quiet, dark room is best for quality sleep.”


Exercise:
“Try to get 30 minutes a day of any activity that increases your heart rate. Biking, walking, and jogging are all great outdoor options during this time of year. Pick an activity you enjoy and change it up to keep things fresh.”

“Work in some muscle-building activities twice a week. This can be anything that makes your muscles work harder than they typically would. Push-ups, sit-ups and squats are three easy body-weight exercises to start with.”


Nutrition:
“Water is a key component in healthy nutrition. All of your cells and organs need water to function optimally. It helps our digestive system operate efficiently as well as boosts skin and joint health.”

“Eat real, whole foods that make you feel satisfied and energized. And eat a variety of foods. All foods fit into a healthy diet.”

Self-care covers many areas such as our physical, social, spiritual, and psychological selves. Trying to focus on all of these areas can sometimes be overwhelming.

“If you start to feel overwhelmed, remember, the most important part of self-care is to focus on what you can control,” Little says.

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