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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

hand drawn note: self care is not selfishThere’s been a lot of thought and discussion since the beginning of the Covid pandemic about self-care.  The pandemic has affected women in some heightened ways.  Women are more likely to be the care giver for children who have been at home due to no day care, or at home with virtual school.  Women are also more likely to be the care giver for their parents in need.  Women who then are working a job from home during the pandemic, are juggling home school/virtual school along with their job.  You get the picture.  The list goes on.  I’ve noticed in my clinical practice that conversations about nutrition, exercise, stress management and indulgences that we might have increased, all seem more poignant because likely, they have all taken a pandemic hit so to speak.  Job, family, home school and then self-care… Well, it’s all much harder to accomplish the latter.

I was moderating a panel recently of women naturopathic physician colleagues, and we addressed this for ourselves.  Physicians and health care workers also succumb to challenges in self-care.  Here are a few ways I maintain my health and mood, (and a few things I wish I did more of) which are even more important when we are under more stress.  I also thought I would try to mention some things that we don’t often hear about.

  1. I make my bed every morning (I’ve always done this, thanks to my mother’s good training). And, according to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, if we make our bed every day, we are more likely to get a good night’s sleep.  It also just makes me feel good.  The day starts tidy and then I get to get into a tidy bed at night.
  2. Daily exercise— for me, this is generally a walk of at least 2.5 miles. It used to be 3….. I’m trying to get back to that!!  Not going for a walk because of the pandemic is not really an adequate excuse by the way.  Outside and walking and with masks on… it has always been safe and still is… and now with even more of us vaccinated, it’s even more just where we need to be on a daily basis.
  3. Strength training – for me this is often chopping or hauling wood but when it’s not, I take to the exercise bands or the hand weights or the bar weights. I have these at home, so it is not dependent on the gym. Still, I need to do the weights more regularly…. and I sure do wish I would bring back yoga in my life!!  Maybe writing this will help.
  4. Daily time in nature, with trees in particular. I’m fortunate here as I live in the country, amidst large trees and a forest surrounds my home on all sides.  According to at least one study, all we need is 20 minutes among the trees to reduce our levels of stress hormones significantly.  And even if you live smack dab in an urban area… I bet it’s not too far to your neighborhood park… small trees, large trees, any trees.
  5. Eat good food… what I mean here are meals and foods that are as close to the way nature had it mind…. fresh vegetables and fruits, cooked grains, eggs, dairy (not too much), legumes, nuts, seeds and olive oil. And, if you are not a vegetarian— seafood, poultry, lean meats (not too much).  You’ve likely heard of the Mediterranean diet.  A Mediterranean diet is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and many cancers.  You can eat well, enjoy the incredibly tasty foods and meals, and likely live longer and healthier because of it.
  6. Attend to and grow your relationships with friends and family. I think for many of us, the pandemic has deepened our appreciation of those we care about. Many of us have found out how much we rely on the connections we have.  Many of us have also welcomed the generosity of others and extended that generosity to not only friends and family, but strangers and casual acquaintances in our everyday life.
  7. Make boundaries with those around you for whom you care and who perhaps need many things from you: “this is the time that I do not want to be disturbed for 30 minutes; do not knock on my door or face time me or text me or call me from 4-4:30 every day” .  It may take some number of days or failures for everyone to get in the groove but stay strong and use your time well!!!
  8. Identify your “go to” (yet healthy) comforts: examples might include a hot bath, a conversation with a specific loved one in your life, reading a chapter in your book, a favorite TV show or podcast, meditation, prayer and/or a piece of dark chocolate. And, I don’t want to forget to ask you, have you tried a Cara Cara orange???? If you are not knocked out by the deliciousness of it…. We need to work on this!!! And of course, please notice what I didn’t include as comforts!!
  9. Clean up after oneself promptly- true, I’ve always been on the tidy side… but I find that making sure my dishes are washed and counters clean after each meal, clothes put away after changing and floors swept and vacuumed regularly, makes me happy. I believe chaos of surroundings breeds chaos of thinking and mood.
  10. Look for ways to have fun, enjoy small moments and small interactions… daily… this might be in simple interactions with salespeople, gas station attendants, etc.… but it also might be ways to have a light-hearted, kind humorous moment with someone. Looking for humor (in kind and respectful ways), makes for more fun and a good feeling out in the world, and hopefully makes someone else’s the same.

In general, I’m looking for consistency, aesthetic surroundings, pleasant interactions, positivity, fun, and healthy choices for mind/body/spirit.

I wish you good times, good health and good self-care.

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