As America races to slow this pandemic’s grip, it’s easy for women to forget about self-care during this time.
You may be at home with school-age children, looking after aging parents, or have adult children that still need your financial and emotional support. A lot of women will be working from home during this time as well. Women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s are often trying to balance these responsibilities/relationships and often feel “squeezed” in the middle with no time to focus on themselves. Have you heard the term “sandwich generation”?
Self-care starts with good habits.
But which habits are most important? To answer this, Dr. Bitner did the research and came up with the SEEDS, or Seven Essential Elements of Daily Success.
There is no quick fix for the current situation, we are all in this together right now. But the SEEDS can help anyone feel better and also improve the odds of healthy aging.
SEEDS – The Seven Essential Elements for Daily Success
1. Water—Eight 10 oz. glasses every day.
We recommend a net of 80 ounces of water per day. (A non-caffeinated beverage with no added sugars is also acceptable.) Net means the total minus the ounces of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or soda, and minus the ounces of alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate you. An adequate amount of water is important to improve energy, reduce hot flashes, and make skin and hair look better.
2. Sleep—50 hours every week.
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. Adequate sleep makes it easier to lose weight, have more energy for exercise and maintain a better mood. People who get an average of seven hours per night face a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression, and dementia.
3. Vitamins—Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Calcium.
Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption and bone health. It also supports healthy blood vessels and is linked to reduced inflammation. It’s best to get calcium from food such as romaine lettuce and almonds, as well as dairy. A multivitamin is good insurance, just in case you don’t eat what you should every day.
4. Fiber—35 grams per day.
It is important to get 35 grams of fiber per day to keep bowel movements regular. This also reduces your risk of colon cancer.
5. Nutrients —a healthy balance of complex carbs, lean protein, healthy fats, and one treat.
- Healthy Carbohydrates—Approximately 5 servings every day.
- Healthy Proteins—Approximately 5 servings every day.
- Smart Fats—Approximately 3 servings every day.
- One Treat
Complex carbs are starches with color, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes or brown rice pasta. Lean proteins include fish, eggs, chicken, beans or tofu. Healthy fats include avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
Treats are items such as alcohol, white bread, white rice and the white flour tortillas we sometimes crave. Indulging in these items can sabotage all the hard work you put in—and it goes straight to your belly fat.
6. Activity—5,000 steps for weight maintenance, 10,000 steps for weight loss.
- Strength Training
Include a balance of aerobic exercise to get the heart rate up and strength training to maintain and improve muscle mass. Stretch to improve function and reduce pain.
It’s crucial to pick what you like and find a safe, fun and energizing place to do the activities. Sit-ups, walking with squats, lifting weights, yoga and Tai Chi are all part of the equation.
7. Mind-Body Connection—One 5 minute instance each day of metered breathing and gratitude.
- Close mouth
- Open eyes
- Focus vision on a single spot
- Breathe normally through the nose
Practice mindfulness techniques for five minutes each day. Make a list of what you are thankful for. Gratitude can get us through tough times and stop us from over-reacting. It improves our focus and ability to function and it helps us sleep. It can also calm a hot flash.
Metered breathing is done by sitting and focusing on a not-too-distant spot, closing the mouth and breathing through the nose for several minutes. Concentrate on the sound of the breath. If there is no way you can do this, then practice gratitude as a first step.
Practice Self-Care Daily With SEEDS
We know that the daily practice of SEEDS can help people feel better. When put into practice, it can reduce the risk of disease and planning is key. Sunday nights are a good time to put the SEEDS on your calendar for the week. Identify days for aerobic walking, strength training and stretching. Plan out your meals and menus for the week—including snacks. Develop a strategy for getting enough sleep. You can read more about SEEDS and the research behind it in Dr. Bitner’s book, “I Want To Age Like That!”
Download and save the graphic below to your phone or computer. Print it out and keep it someplace you will see it every day as a reminder. It’s more important than ever for you to establish these habits. Now is the time to take care of yourself so you will be in a better position to care for others.