With the focus firmly on South African women this August 9th, Women’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of responsible self-care.
“Self-care lies at the heart of what we represent,” says, Nicola Brink, Executive Director of the Self-Medication Manufacturers Association of South Africa (SMASA). “And this Women’s Day, we’d like to encourage women across the country to take charge of their health and improve their overall health and wellbeing.”
Here are five great ways to start or enhance your self-care journey:
Get your health checks done
We’ve all heard it before, but it’s absolutely worth repeating:
-Perform a breast self-exam once a month
-Check your skin monthly for any changes to existing moles or freckles or the appearance of new ones, and schedule a visit to your dermatologist once a year
-Visit your gynaecologist every year for a pap smear
-Have an annual health check at your GP
-Schedule an annual mammogram when you reach 40
-Chat to your GP about a colonoscopy and diabetes screening once you reach 50 – earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer
-Also, know your blood type, your cholesterol count, your BMI, your blood glucose and your blood pressure.
Commit to an exercise routine
It can be difficult finding the time for regular exercise, but you don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill or in your favourite class to enjoy the benefits. Just 30 minutes a day is enough to help lift your mood, boost your energy levels, help control your weight and improve your sleep patterns. And those 30 minutes don’t need to be spent at the gym. You could spend them walking your dog, cycling to work or going for a short jog during your lunch break – whatever fits your schedule.
Make better food choices
Most of us know what we should be eating, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are. With so many things to pack into our daily schedules, meals often happen on the go, when we tend to reach for the most convenient (and often not the healthiest) option. If you’re struggling to find your nutritional sweet spot, here are a few pointers to steer you in the right direction:
-Include sufficient protein in your diet – it’s one of the building blocks of muscles, bones, blood and cartilage
-Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
-Avoid processed foods
Make time for yourself
This may seem like an impossibility, given the fast-paced, jam-packed lives we lead, but it’s crucial that you make time for yourself – even if you have to schedule it in. And you don’t need to find hours to enjoy your downtime. It could be as quick as a taking your pooch for a walk around the block or grabbing a coffee at a quiet table and browsing the newspaper headlines or listening to a podcast. If you can find more time though, a massage is always a great way to relax and feel rejuvenated.
Simplify your life
Ever feel like you’ve got too many balls in the air? A career, family, elderly parents – whether you’re juggling one or all of them, they can take up a significant amount of time. Instead of trying to be superwoman and taking on everything you’re asked to, learn to prioritise those things that are most important and say ‘no’ to those that aren’t.