Self-love is difficult to nurture during stressful periods in our life when we frequently are overwhelmed, lost and foggy. With the proper exercise, meditation, social support, rest and nutrition, we can dramatically reduce the level of stress hormones released in our bodies. Special guest author Audrey Pellicano shares the “7 Keys to Maintaining Wellness, Nutrition and Nurturing Self-love” in hopes to help you reduce your unhealthy levels of stress.
By Audrey Pellicano
During times of stress or loss whether due to the death of a loved one, a divorce, job loss or financial loss, taking care of our selves is most often overlooked. When we neglect our own self-care we neglect self-love. As women, we are the caregivers and caretakers of others and often forget that, as we’re told when we board a plane, “put your oxygen mask on first”. I too am guilty of, at times, putting myself last. Work, kids, husband, aging parents and the never-ending “To-Do” list can cloud our heads.
Up at 5:30am for some quiet self time and meditation is what I always give myself but, after diving into the work day, it can sometimes be challenging to leave the phone and computer, carve out time between clients and get to my 3 mile walk or my 30 minute at home yoga practice. Part of the work I do with clients, is to address the area of maintaining health and wellness during times of stress and loss. When I speak on the subject, the audience has no idea of the importance of self-love to their health.
Stress initiates the natural “fight or flight” response and sends the body into overdrive. Overdrive is helpful when there is an emergency or might have been helpful when woolly mammoths chased us. But, other than during those times, instead of fleeing an emergency, our bodies are in a constant state of fighting without a direction, outlet or purpose.
During stressful periods such as after a loss, we are frequently overwhelmed and sometimes lost and foggy. When in a state of stress, a flood of stress hormones is released. In recent publications the term ”broken heart syndrome” has been used to describe what is medically known as stress cardiomyopathy. The level of stress hormones in the blood can be two to three times higher than it is in those suffering from a classic heart attack. Overall, our immune systems become compromised.
So what can you do?
Building your immune system is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself. This can be done through a combination of exercise, meditation, social support, rest and eating immune boosting food.
Following are the 7 key components of maintaining a level of wellness and nutrition and nurturing self-love.
Rest and Rehydrate — Take time to rest and drink plenty of water.
Exercise – Take a walk, take a run, take a yoga class. All exercise will contribute to keeping your heart and mind healthy. Daily exercise will improve your mood and enhance your sleep.
Diet — Replenish your depleted immune system by selecting healthy foods. A complete list of immune boosting and disease preventing foods is included at the end of this article.
Support — We try to do it all! Gain the support of other women who may also be struggling to fit in time for self-care. Encourage and be accountable to each other.
Delegation – You cannot do it all. Ask for help with the mundane tasks. Order groceries to be delivered. Write a list of what you believe needs to be done and hand it to your children, partner or husband.
Meditation – Not medication! Studies have shown that just a few minutes a day taken to do a short meditation can combat the ill effects of stress. Meditation can be as simple as simply closing your eyes and focusing on your breath, or repeating an uplifting phrase. Experiment and find what works best for you.
Breathe! – When we are in the state of “fight or flight”, or during times of stress, our breathing becomes shallow and our slouched stature reduces the ability of the lungs to expand and bring in the needed oxygen to our cells. Taking in a deep breath through your nostrils and either sighing, screaming or just exhaling, brings a release and fresh oxygen to our brains. Take 3 deep breaths on the hour, every hour and your energy and mood will lift.
When these 7 components of self-love are combined, they will aid in supporting your body’s natural immune system and help you to restore your health and well-being.
Following are the suggested foods you can add to your weekly diet as immune supporting, self-loving nourishment.
|Mustard Greens||Watercress||Kale||Turnip Greens||Tomato|
|Brussels Sprouts||Arugula||Turnips||Bok Choy||Celery|
Which of the 7 Keys to Health and Wellness are missing for you?
Identify those areas that are missing and write down what you think is preventing you from incorporating them into your life.
Immune Boosting Diet
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
I’ve accepted that starting a business takes persistence and a great love for what you do.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate that I have a clear vision of what I want in my life and that I have the skills set to make it happen.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
I always answer this question with the same answer. For me raising four amazing children will always be the most rewarding achievement in my life. The goals I still have… Getting my first book published is top on the list, almost there! And then starting my second book. I want to live in Europe for a year, not sure which country or city yet. I want to run my first 5K in 2013 when I’m 60!
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
My daughter just told me I’m ambiguous. Not sure if that’s an imperfection but I think my daughter views it as one. My quirk, that I’ve been called, on is my directness. I don’t beet around the bush, so how am I ambiguous?
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Once again I have to say I love my life! My children, the man I married after being single for 22 years and the work I do.
Audrey Pellicano R.N., M.S. is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She has been in the health care industry for 37 years as a Registered Nurse, Case Manager with a Masters degree in Health Science. Having been widowed at the age of 38 with 4 young children, Audrey sought out support from professionals familiar to her but, who had no experience in working with a young widow with years of raising children before her. Her goal as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist is to be a guide through the process of loss and grief and to provide an empathetic and safe place to grow through the sadness.