Indulging yourself healthily
As women, we’ve got a lot in our lives to deal with. Whether at home or at work, we’re often the problem-solvers and decision-makers, putting other people’s concerns ahead of ours. At the end of the day, when we’re at home, we’re too exhausted to do anything but crash on the bed and fall asleep. If you keep going on like this without a break, you will eventually burn out and experience mental and emotional distress, as well as physical symptoms.
Every so often, it is important to do something to indulge and pamper yourself. It gives you emotional and mental relief, and sometimes even physical relaxation as well. In other words, you need to do something that is good for your body, mind and soul. Indulgence is not necessarily about doing something that is bad for you – you can indulge yourself in healthy and meaningful ways too. Here are a few ways to treat yourself, without costing too much or taking up a lot of time in your busy schedule.
Laugh at something funny
When was the last time you had a good, hearty belly laugh? It was probably too long ago for you to remember. What with having to deal with naughty kids, cranky colleagues, difficult customers and a dozen other problems, who has time to laugh? You should make time, though. Laughing is the best way to release all the stress that has built up inside you. It even strengthens your immune system, improves blood flow, stabilises blood pressure and keeps blood glucose levels down. The easiest way to get a good laugh is to watch a funny movie. Pick something that will not only make you smile or chuckle, but laugh out loud.
Have a cuppa
Much has been said about tea’s healthful, antioxidant properties. So start channeling those benefits into your “me-time”, by taking a break with a cup of tea. Studies show that people who drink four cups of black tea a day for six weeks release fewer stress hormones after a difficult task, compared to those who drank a caffeinated fruit drink. Green tea is also a good choice, if you want some variety.
After all the years of secretly eating chocolate, we have finally been told that chocolate is good for us – but only dark chocolate. While being low in sugar and fat, dark chocolate is also a good source of flavonoids. These are compounds found in plants, which are believed to have strong health properties. Some of the health benefits associated with flavonoid-rich foods are: reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. Now, this is not a license for you to eat loads of chocolates every day. Have only a little piece a day, and truly savour it as it melts in your mouth.
Get a massage and manicure
These aren’t just for the rich and famous, but for any woman who works herself to the bone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We submit our bodies to a great physical toll, whether we are doing housework and manual labour, or sitting hunched in front of a computer all day long. A manicure, pedicure and massage all offer one great benefit – human touch, which has been shown to reduce stress and boost self-confidence. A massage releases endorphins in the body, which lowers anxiety and increases your immunity. Many reflexology places offer simple back, neck, shoulder or foot massages at affordable prices. You can also get a chair massage at some malls or office buildings.
If you have a significant other in your life, don’t neglect your relationship in your busy schedule. Physical intimacy is something that you should take time to indulge in. Give your spouse a proper kiss every day, when you leave for work and when you come home. You will be surprised at how much it increases your self-being and helps your worries to melt away.
And when you’re feeling very stressed and drained, don’t crash straight onto the bed or in front of the television – try sex instead. Research has shown that sex lowers blood pressure, increases immunity and improves self-esteem. A healthy physical connection with your partner will also strengthen your relationship emotionally, which gives you one less reason to be stressed during the day!
Can stretching be an indulgence? It can, when you take your time at it and give every little muscle in your body a tweak (watch a cat the next time it stretches). Stretching helps ease tired muscles, increases flexibility, improves your range of motion, gets the blood circulating and soothes away the stress. It’s always a good idea to stop in the middle of the workday and give yourself a good stretch. Get out of your chair and do a slow stretch across all the major parts of your bodies, holding each pose for 10 seconds. You can also do it again when you are at home, while watching TV.
Call a good friend
When was the last time you had a proper chat with one of your dear friends? You may see them at gatherings, drop them an email sometimes or read their status updates on Facebook, but nothing beats a good conversation about the things that really matter in life (or even just chatting about trivial, fun things). The power of friendship in nurturing good mental and emotional health is not negligible. Everyone needs to have emotional attachment with people around them, as it gives us a sense of belonging, purpose and self-worth. So treat yourself to a good long conversation with your friend, either over the phone or a simple meal.
Get your blood flowing with some physical movements in your daily life. It’s not necessarily exercise (which is something else you should do regularly). Instead, this is just a chance to get some fresh air, relax your mind and boost your energy levels. You could try taking a walk around your neighbourhood, do some simple gardening or play around with the kids outside. Just 10 minutes will make you feel the difference!
Indulgence, or necessity? It’s certainly the latter, but you also need to indulge in good quality, restful sleep each night. The amount of sleep we need differs between individuals, but generally, six to eight hours every night is the recommended amount. Quality sleep refreshes your mind, helping you to retain information that you have learnt during the day and make memories. Sleep may also play a crucial role in preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
I have previously written about ways to improve the quality of sleep, such as by ensuring that the bedroom is properly dark and quiet, the mattress and pillows are comfortable, and the temperature is not too warm or too cold. Lavender is another good trick to help you sleep and also ease your anxiety. Spritz a little lavender water on your pillow or put a little sachet with lavender oil next to your bed. These tips above are simple ways to take time out in a day and indulge in a little pick-me-up. Try not to go a day without at least one of these healthy treats.
Star newspape. Oct 30, 2011
By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar