Striking a balance between managing our responsibilities and practicing self-care can seem like an impossible feat. If you feel like simply tending to your work and family life is overwhelming in itself, you’re not alone. While traditional gender roles are fading, women are tasked with most of the childcare and household chores. Living with COVID-19 has been identified as a setback to household chore sharing! Women feel more stressed out than men.
Prioritizing mental and physical wellness might seem like adding more items to an ever-growing to-do list. But striking a balance in which you meet your basic physical and mental needs could actually help everything else fall into place more easily. Here’s what you should know about caring for yourself with a busy schedule.
Stress Factors for Women
Women and men have many of the same stressors. There are family roles to play, personal and professional roles to fulfill, financial responsibilities and social demands to keep up with. But there are some specific stressors which apply specifically to women. For example, women tend to be primary caregivers not only for children but also aging parents. And menstrual cycles or menopause symptoms may also add discomfort that compounds stress.
In the midst of all these factors, mental and physical wellness often take a backseat. And the issue tends to be worse for mothers: a 2019 study showed that 66% of women with children feel overwhelmed, compared to 53% of fathers. Yet, men are more likely to make time for self-care activities.
Regardless of whether or not you have children (or plan to), your mental and physical needs matter. Engaging in basic self-care also helps control stress, improve energy, and keep you healthy overall. Fortunately, you don’t need to overhaul your routine to incorporate mental and physical wellness into your day-to-day life.
Realistic Ways to Balance Your Mental & Physical Needs
Get Creative with Exercise
The current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services call for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week for adults. That sounds like a lot, but amounts to roughly 20 minutes a day for seven days, or 30 minutes a day for five.
When your schedule is packed and you’re already running on empty, setting the alarm earlier to hit the gym may not be realistic, but there are still simple ways to squeeze in physical activity. If you can’t get time away from your children, try activities with them like tag, dancing in your living room, stroller walks, or family bike rides to get your blood flowing. If you’re always at your desk, consider an under-desk pedal exerciser or treadmill desk. These devices vary in price, but your health is an investment worth making.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
There are many ways in which mental and physical wellness are linked, and both need to be tended to in a balanced way. But incorporating mental health habits can be challenging, because efforts are often less tangible than those associated with physical health.
So, what fills your cup? For some women, it may be reading a book. For others, it could be listening to a podcast and drawing a bath. Others may enjoy talking to a friend or doing something creative. If you’re not sure what helps you feel mentally rejuvenated, it’s probably because you haven’t had enough time to explore the possibilities lately.
Your mental health care plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Exercising mental self-care can begin in small ways, including just taking a few minutes each day to pause and reflect. Try to spend 10 to 15 minutes doing simple stretches, sitting outside without your phone, or doing a guided meditation. Eventually, you’ll identify and find time for more involved self-care activities. For now, these grounding exercises may be enough to deliver health-boosting benefits like reducing cortisol and lowering blood pressure.
Preventive women’s wellness is another important element of your overall physical and mental health — and a time when you can prioritize both. If you’re due for an exam, make an appointment with one of our caring providers by calling (770) 385-8954 or schedule your visit online.