Finding time for self-care in our busy lifestyle
How do you take care of yourself when: A. You're a woman. B. You work full-time and, C. You travel a lot (C. can be swapped for anything else besides travel, i.e. having children or any other responsibilities.)?
Personally, it was once I started traveling that I started to take notice of how important self-care is. Feeling exhausted and stressed and the demands of work and life breathing down your neck are a few things all women have in common. All of these are realities we are expected to juggle like a boss.
The world doesn't stop because you are having back-to-back bad days, cramps, or mood swings. So, if these feelings are common, why is it that no women I look up to have told me how to take care of my body?
For me, it was the feeling of exhaustion that came with PMS rendering me useless every month for a few days that made me stop and take a serious assessment about self-care. The biggest lesson came when I injured my IT band on my knee joint while running. When I looked into it, I discovered that women have the highest joint injuries during their ovulation phase. I looked back on my calendar to check when the injury happened, and it was right on the dot. I continued to searches online to learn why my body was reacting the way it was every single month. Whether it was the kind of food I craved or the mental gloom I felt, all of it felt repetitive.
I dreaded the feeling and I hated that this precious time was being taken from me because all I could do was, no lie, eat an entire pizza and go to sleep. I started journaling and looking at what my body was doing during those times and how I could help myself fight every symptom and overcome the feeling of helplessness that comes from PMS. I was prepared to do the work.
So, for an entire month, I wrote how I felt each day and took time to learn my body's cycle. When I looked back and compared my notes to how I felt each month, these feelings were cyclical. The pimple that seems to have a personal vendetta against my face and faithfully pops out a week before my period, the feeling of exhaustion that comes three days before, the feeling of insecurity and doomsday I get a few days prior, my introspective feelings, the low energy, the irritability, and my short-fused temper, though all were temporary, became very apparent to me.
I'd love to share with you 8 self-care practices I use to keep my sanity and fuel my body with what it needs. These findings are based on the personal research I did and found what was helpful for me. We are all different and different things work for each of us. So whether you are a traveler, nurse, student, or stay-at-home mom, finding the best lifestyle self-practice can benefit your mind and body and it can be just what you need.
1. USING AN AROMATHERAPY DIFFUSER
I use therapeutic grade essential oils 3-4 days before my period and here’s why it’s helpful.
Lavender- Balances hormones,reliefs pain , decrease the feeling of stress and depression and calms the stomach. (I use this any time of the month actually.)
Geranium-Influence the release of adrenal hormones (Find out what adrenal hormones does below) and reduces fluctuation in hormones.
Clary Sage- Releases of dopamine in the brain helps lift mood and modulates the level of estrogen in the body. Alleviates pain, reduces the feeling of stress, and improves hormone balance.
2. UNDERSTANDING HORMONES
Helps me treat my symptoms using aromatherapy, energy fueling meals, and rest and exercise.
Progesterone - Decreased level right before your period means you may experience insomnia, be extra fatigued, and have low resilience to stress.
Blood Sugar - Imbalance is what causes the constant craving and hunger during PMS.
Estrogen & Progesterone - Levels drops causing mood changes and concentration.
Low Iron - When you get close to your period, your body is building up the lining of your uterus (in case of pregnancy) and a lot of blood is concentrated in the pelvis at this time. So, all this blood isn't circulating in your body and if you have low iron to begin with, you can feel really crappy.
Feel Good Hormones - Dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin, & serotonin.
Adrenal hormones - Plays an important role in regulating metabolism, immunity and the way we respond to stress.
3. SKIN CARE ROUTIN
I get hormonal acne and a dull looking face a week before my period. Here’s what I learned how my hormones and eating habit effect my skin.
Hormone Imbalance - Causes more oil production which makes your skin prone to pimples.
Eating Habits - Cutting food made from processed sugar, dairy, and gluten can reduce inflammation.
Face Masks - Can prevent blemishes and give your skin much needed concentrated hydration and treatment.
4. CONTROLLING MOOD SWINGS.
Saying No - Practice saying no before your period begins helps with creating and setting healthy boundaries and avoiding a blowout.
Laugh - Talk to a friend or family member you like and you know will make you laugh. Watch a funny movie. Laughing releases feel-good chemicals in your brain.
Pictures - Make a photo album with all your favorite friends and/or family members. Bookmark your favorite, inspirational, funny, or cute photos on social media to go back and look at. Personally looking at photos of loved ones puts me in a better mood.
5. EXERCISING YOUR BODY AND MIND
Accepting to practice the right workout for me instead of subscribing to what I saw other people doing was crucial to my personal self-care journey.
Yoga- Increases blood flow & oxygen settles down the nervous system. Examples of some yoga poses you can practice a week before you period are cat, cobra, fish, and downward facing dog.
Meditation & Prayers - Helps you internalize your thoughts.
Playing Sports - Be careful while pushing yourself. Research has found that women's knee joints tend to be loose during ovulation.
Moderately Intensive workout - Thirty minutes of exercise is ok and can help alleviate cramps, decrease uncomfortable bloating, speed up blood circulation, let loose feel-good hormones, and combat mood swings and PMS symptoms.
6. REST AND REFLECTION
Balance - Slow down, say no, meditate, practice yoga, journal, go for a walk, read a good book, take epsom salt baths, talk to a friend, watch a fun movie or anything else that rejuvenates your energy and spirit.
Introspection - The last phase of our cycle before our period begins is a time to rest and reflect.
Massages - Can help with blood circulation and relaxation.
Listen To Your Body - Sometimes you just want to rest and take it easy and thats ok.
Sleep - You know you need it.
7. TYPE OF FOOD YOU SHOULD EAT BEFORE YOUR PERIOD BEGINS
What I eat 3-4 days before my period and why it's helpful.
Portion - Eat smaller portions more frequently instead of heavy meals to stabilize blood sugar. Eat more fat and protein.
Cinnamon - Help balance blood sugar levels to make you more even-keeled and less fatigued, regulates the menstrual cycle.
Iron-rich Food - Spinach, sesame seed, legumes, lentil kidney beans, chickpeas, olives, and beets.
Energy Bars - Pumpkin seed, chocolate, peanut, oat bran, sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnut.
Raspberry leaf tea - Contains alkaloid and reduces cramps relaxing and toning the uterus.
Vitamin E - Powerful antioxidant that protects against cell damage. Food that contains Vitamin E - Sunflower seeds, corn, nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts), green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B - Helps convert food to energy and make red blood cells, decrease PMS symptoms, including moodiness. Food that contains Vitamin B - Starchy vegetables, potatoes, fruits, and fish, fortified cereals.
Magnesium - Lost when estrogen n levels start to dip. Mg relieves PMS and relieves anxiety. Food that contains Mg - Tomatoes, lima beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, chocolate, peanuts, oat bran, dairy products, fish.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Personally self-care is part of life I have to continue to remind my self to practice. So remember saying yes to self-care is the first step to the well-being of our body, mind, and spirit. Would love to hear any other tips you use to fit self-care in your life. Share your tips on the comment section below. And likes and shares always helps, Thanks!