Gone are the days when women juggled only the chores at home. Today, with an increasing number of women holding responsible positions in the workplace, juggling a demanding career and a hectic family life are all par for course.
With International Women’s Day just around the corner on March 8, the best way to empower yourself is to take a little extra care of your health. To make it easier, here are a few easy-to-follow tips that will not only help you de-stress but also add a spring to your step.
Stretch it out
Yoga aficionados are well aware of its power to both calm and revive, and even taking a short time-out to practice a few moves could prove transformative.
‘If there’s one thing I’d encourage mums to do, it would be a little yoga,’ says psychologist and yoga teacher Suzy Reading, mum to five-year-old Charlotte and 18-month-old Teddy. ‘All you need is a little space, and it’s incredibly effective for head, heart and body.
‘Yoga’s the perfect tonic for lack of sleep and the relentless nature of motherhood,’ she says. And Dubai-based yoga instructor Sumit Manav agrees. ‘There are several yoga exercises that help calm the mind and improve health,’ he says. ‘The Suryanamaskar, for instance – an eight-step exercise programme that includes stretching and breathing – is excellent to begin with.’
It’s so easy to snack on the go, barely even noticing what we’re eating. Making the effort to prepare something nourishing – and take a proper break to eat it – could pay dividends for our bodies and minds.
The Flexi Foodie, Julie Montagu, mum-of-four and author of new book Eat Real Food: Simple Rules For Health, Happiness And Unstoppable Energy (juliemontagu.com), is a fan of avocado on wholegrain toast. ‘This simple snack is perfect as it’s quick to prepare, filling and very nutritious. Simply toast your bread while you remove the flesh from a ripe avocado and then spread it on top. For an extra boost, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on and top with a sprinkle of flax seeds.’
Step to it
It would be easy to think a short walk isn’t worth the effort, but don’t underestimate the power of taking a quick breather. Staying fit is so much easier if we make moving around a regular part of a day, but even the short burst of physical activity, coupled with filling your lungs with fresh air and the chance to switch off, think and reboot, could work wonders for stress levels.
Time for tea
Far more than merely a means for staying hydrated, the act of making tea can serve as a much-needed pause. Choose a tea that taps into your needs and moods for extra benefits.
‘Tea is a vital part of my day,’ says nutritional therapist Jennifer Young, author of Recognise Yourself, a beauty and well-being guide for people affected by cancer. ‘I have three daughters [aged 12, 14 and 16] and my brain knows the theory of how good tea is for me – I need the time out to drink and think as much as I need the caffeine!
‘If I need to keep my energy high, jasmine tea is my first option, and out and about, I go for a spearmint green tea. Herbals take over from about 4pm, as I know I won’t sleep otherwise – liquorice and mint is my current go-to for a wind-down cuppa.
‘Chamomile is the all-time best calming and soothing tea; almost sedative in its effect.’
Struggle to truly tune out? Maybe tuning in is the answer. Lots of experts agree that learning the art of meditation can take time – and effort. If you’re not there yet, how about a musical-mediation break? Either put on the stereo or pop on some headphones, lie or sit down, close your eyes and let your senses completely engage with the sounds. Breathing more slowly and deeply will come more naturally, meaning a greater sense of relaxation throughout the day.