1. Take yourself seriously.
If you take yourself seriously, others will as well. Speak up, be heard, do not let others silence your voice. Your voice is just as important as your neighbor’s voice, your husband’s voice, your boyfriend’s voice, your best friend’s voice, and especially some corporate-owned politician’s voice.
2. Focus on excellent nutrition.
Know what you are putting in your body. There is nothing wrong with an occasional treat, but know what your body needs to be healthy and consciously choose to consume those foods. Avoid GMOs, foods filled with artificial colors and flavors, foods labeled low-fat (because they typically replace the fat with toxic chemicals, salt and sugar), and eat to nourish.
3. Activity levels matter.
Dig out that treadmill, stop using that exercise bike as a clothes rack, and start moving! A few sit-ups, leg lifts, and taking the stairs versus using an elevator can make a huge difference. Even 5 minutes of gentle exercise once or twice a day is 100 times better than none at all. Start simple, start small, and slowly work your way up to a more active lifestyle.
4. Sleep routine is vital.
Guard your sleep schedule. If you know you are tired if you get less than 7.5 hours of sleep then do NOT stay up watching a TV show that you can watch later online. Don’t answer the phone after 7 p.m. Avoid caffeine (and this includes chocolate, ladies) after noon if it affects the quality of your sleep. Caffeine may not seem to affect your ability to fall asleep but it might affect sleep cycles and the qualify of your sleep causing a less-deep sleep than you need to feel refreshed.
5. Be passionate.
Know what you love and what makes you happy and focus on those things. If you have an activist’s heart, then fight for a cause or causes. Stand up for others, stand up for yourself, and make a difference. Partake in at least one activity a day that makes YOU happy.
6. Love those in your life.
Most women naturally focus on pleasing others. But loving them is different than doing their laundry and picking up after them. A loving touch, a compliment, an encouraging word, or just the words, “I love you,” are loving acts. Not feeling the love? Maybe skip this one and head straight for Number 7 and then return to Number 6 when you are loving yourself a bit more.
7. Love yourself.
We women specialize in hating ourselves, putting ourselves down, and always thinking more of others than ourselves (even if we don’t act like we are thinking more of others because we gossip and get snarky). As in Number 5, know what makes you happy and indulge yourself in some way. Forgive yourself, let yourself off the hook (not deluding yourself, of course — you might need to apologize to someone before you can let yourself off the hook), and be gentle with yourself. Taking time to walk each day is not a selfish act; it is a wonderful act of self-love. Enjoying a relaxing glass of red wine is not only good for your body but it can be a loving ritual of self-love, a treat just for you especially paired with a delightful book.
Down time. Do nothing. Deep breathing. Watch a favorite movie or read a wonderful book. Laugh! Smile often. Live in the moment. Everyone needs to disconnect. Do not neglect this practice. If baking cupcakes is relaxing for you, then bake cupcakes. If knitting is relaxing for you, then by all means make time to knit each day (or a couple of times a week or join to a knitting group). Sleeping late, staying in your pajamas on Saturdays, whatever it is that gives your body, mind and emotions a break: do it!
These are just a few notes to myself, mostly, that I plan to work on in my own life. One thing that being chronically ill has taught me is that stress can cause me great harm, affecting my body’s immune response such as limiting my body’s ability to fight off a simple cold or a flare-up of tendonitis or joint pain. Self-care is vital for serious, effective women in the 21st century. Let’s take care of ourselves better and be more effective in our world. Oh, and it is okay to want to be happy, too. Really, it is.