Hello fellow moms! We’ve taken a moment to list our Top Ten self care practices for better health. We’ve included some unique ones you may not have thought of and some of the more obvious ones with our own personal spin. Read on for better health!
- Invest in a pelvic floor trainer… If you’ve had a baby, your pelvic floor is probably in need of a little TLC. Pelvic floor trainers like the Perifit are designed to help improve muscle recruitment, control, power, endurance, and relaxation. Say goodbye to urinary incontinence and hello to a better sex life this year!
- Have your thyroid checked… 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid disorder in their lifetime. Thyroid issues can wreak havoc on your body but can go undiagnosed for years. It is estimated that 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. The common symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, depression, and weight gain are often overlooked as just symptoms of motherhood and if gone unchecked they can lead to osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. You can be tested with a simple blood panel. TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) should not be the only marker tested. Make sure T3/T4 and thyroid antibodies are also included in the panel. Elevated thyroid antibodies indicate an autoimmune component (Hashimoto’s Disease) and should be monitored to confirm that your condition is being managed properly. There is still some debate among physicians about what constitutes “normal” lab values when it comes to thyroid markers so make sure you get a copy of your results and do your research. Diagnosing and successfully managing a thyroid disorder can give you your life back, literally!
- Make sleep a priority… I know, easier said than done which is probably why this self care practice isn’t further up the list. The benefits of sleep are numerous including better immune system function, increased energy, better ability to manage stress, improved memory, better decision making, and prevention of weight gain. The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults and even more for kids. Studies have found that sleep is important for flushing waste materials, such as the protein found in Alzheimer’s, from the brain. If you’re not getting the recommended amount of sleep, prioritize sleep in your daily schedule. Try adjusting your routine to allow your body to start winding down at a decent hour to maximize your sleep time. Limiting caffeine intake later in the day, and getting more bright light during the day and less blue light from screens at night can also help.
- Get those leafy greens… Better nutrition is a common New Year’s resolution but can be difficult to commit to, so we thought we’d keep it simple. Regardless of which diet you follow, leafy greens are one of those consensus foods that most of us don’t get enough of. These superfoods are nutrient dense, low calorie, high in fiber, and have been found to be beneficial for heart and brain health. Adding them to smoothies, pasta sauce, sandwiches, and veggies can be an easy way to ensure you get your greens!
- Take a trip… A change of scenery can go a long way when it comes to recharging and gaining perspective. And remember, this trip is about self care so plan something for you! That might be a day trip with your girl friends, a weekend getaway with the hubby, or a solo trip somewhere for some quiet time and self reflection. Whatever it is, make it your own.
- Perform a beauty product audit… The new year is a great time to do a little purging and your beauty products are a great place to start given that masacara should be replaced every 3 months, eeeekkkk! The FDA does not regulate beauty products, which means that companies could be (and are) placing harmful ingredients in their products. Luckily, there has been a big movement to clean up the beauty industry and there are now more safe options available than ever before. Find out how safe your current beauty products are by visiting the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database.
- Talk with a mental health specialist… Although we are well aware of the mental load that comes with motherhood, we rarely discuss the benefits of mental healthcare unless things have reached a critical mass. Talking with a therapist can be a meaningful and productive way to manage the stress that comes with motherhood and let’s face it, just living in today’s world.
- Spend time with your besties… I think most of us would agree, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, spending time with the ones who really “get you” can be therapeutic. Moms often find opportunities to spend time with other moms but carving out time to spend with those you really connect with can be more meaningful and leave your cup feeling full.
- Exercise… This is another one of those cliché New Year’s resolutions but it still makes it near the top of our list! The research doesn’t lie— exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your overall health and should be near the top of your list too! If you’re new to exercise, start small— a walk in your neighborhood followed by a few strength exercises (squats, modified push ups, and rows with a resistance band) can get you off on the right foot. The key is to be consistent and keep building. If you already exercise, consider adding in some target training. Target training is a form of cross training designed to specifically target your weaker areas. For example, if you’re a runner you’ll want to target your hip abductors and external rotators— muscles that are important for good running form but are commonly weak in runners. If you like to cycle or row, you’ll want to target train the muscles around your shoulder blades for muscle balance and better posture.
- Practice deep breathing… Yup, it’s #1! It doesn’t take much time, it’s easy to do, and it’s free! Deep breathing can help reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, decrease pain, improve posture, increase energy, and improve digestion. We like the 4-7-8 technique taught by Dr. Andrew Weil. To try it, first empty your lungs of air. Breath in through your nose quietly for 4 seconds, allowing your rib cage and belly to expand. Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds, then exhale through your mouth making a “whooshing” sound for 8 seconds. Repeat the cycle up to 4 times twice a day. If you feel light headed while deep breathing, lie down while practicing and try reducing the number of seconds in each phase by half, keeping the ratio the same.
So there you have it, our top 10 self care practices for better health! What is your go to self care practice? Do you have one that didn’t make our list? Let us know!