A healthier body, mind and spirit are goals many of us strive to reach. However, the pressures of daily life make can it difficult for many women, or the women in your life, to achieve these aims. Trying to do it all — maintain a successful career, sustain stable relationships, raise children, care for aging parents — can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional health.
Therefore, it’s important that women take the time and make the effort to focus on themselves without feelings of guilt. Mercy Health would like to encourage you to take the necessary steps to jump-start positive lifestyle changes by taking better care of all aspects of your well-being.
Lifestyle modification can consist of a variety of strategies such as healthier eating, exercise and physical activity, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress and spiritual fulfillment. However, it’s important to remember that no two women are the same and you should tailor whatever strategies you use to your own life and goals.
Ensuring that you get enough physical activity will go a long way toward improving your overall quality of life. Although the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes, you should still start gradually and perform the types of physical activity that are appropriate for your current fitness level. However, because we are designed to use our bodies and inactivity can be a contributing factor to many health issues, you should strive to meet the following recommendations:
- Do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (one hour and 15 minutes) per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
- Perform muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week.
- Do activities that you enjoy, be it weightlifting, walking, yoga, swimming and biking because almost any exercise is helpful.
Women’s busy schedules can sometimes make it difficult to eat correctly. Proper nutrition is a key component of any strategy to live healthier. Keep these guidelines in mind when planning your meals:
- Eat three meals a day. Meals should consist primarily of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
- Control portion sizes. Take time to enjoy smaller amounts of food.
- Limit foods high in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and added sugar.
- If you drink alcohol, drink it in moderation — up to one drink a day for women.
- Stay hydrated by drinking enough water.
Poll results of all adults have shown women are more likely than men to have difficulty falling and staying asleep and to experience more daytime sleepiness at least a few nights/days a week. Additionally, new research shows that when women lose sleep, they’re at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and depression. Here are a few tips to help you get a better night’s rest:
- Establish a regular sleep/wake cycle. Avoid taking naps, which can make falling asleep more difficult.
- Make your bedroom an inviting place. However, avoid using the bed for watching TV, eating or working.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine as these things can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Also, avoid stimulating activities close to bedtime and instead engage in calming, relaxing activities.
Making changes to improve the physical aspects of your well-being are great. But what can women do to enhance their mental and spiritual health? Physical, mental and spiritual health are deeply intertwined and have a profound effect on one another. Even though it may seem hard to find ways to de-stress with all the things you have to do, it’s important to find those ways. The following suggestions can help:
- Stress relievers like deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises and keeping a journal can be helpful in controlling the impact stress has on your body.
- Don’t try to do too much at one time — make sure to have time for proper nutrition, sleep, work and play.
- Maintaining a close circle of family and friends can provide you with emotional support when you need it.
- Make time for meditation and/or prayer. Spend time in nature.
- Strive to practice compassion, love, forgiveness, altruism, joy, and fulfillment.
- Work to increase the positive moments in your work and your life, while reducing the negative.
Finally, your lifestyle improvement program should always include getting annual physicals and tests from your primary care physician (PCP). Finding a PCP is easy. Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.
Mercy Health is committed to helping you live a healthy life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.