The Importance of Self-Care and Why Women Need To Be A Little Selfish
By: Marita Pompeani, MSSA, LISW-S, ACHT • Posted on August 10, 2023
At various times in our lives, most of us have experienced the steady drip, drip, drip of stressful events until they get to the point of overwhelm and we are facing extremely painful situations. Women, often involved in numerous care-giving roles, regularly overlook their own wellness needs.
Compared to men, women are more likely to report a higher incidence of stress-related physical and mental health conditions. When left unaddressed, chronic stress increases the risk for:
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Weaker immune system
- Chronic disease
- Memory and concentration
In addition, chronic stress in women can cause problems with menstruation and difficulty getting pregnant.
What Is Self-Care?
A frequently promoted form of stress relief is self-care. Many descriptions of self-care dominate articles and headlines, often with various lists of self-care activities like a trip to the beauty shop, nail salon or shopping mall.
According to the World Health Organization, self-care is the ability to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health and cope with illness and disability. Basically, self-care is anything you do to keep yourself healthy physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.
Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate many stress responses, including:
- anxiety and depression
- poor concentration
- frustration and anger
In addition, self-care can increase happiness, positive connections with ourselves and others and improve our energy levels. From a physical health perspective, self-care has been clinically proven to reduce heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Soft belly breathing
One of the best ways to reduce physical tension is soft belly breathing. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, you expand your belly on the inhale and contract it on the exhale. With practice, this has been found to be one of the most effective ways of managing stress. When your body is fully relaxed, it is impossible to feel stressed.
Nurturing our inner self
Sometimes we need to embrace a form of self-care that involves the discovery and nurturing of our wise inner self. This form of self-care produces a deeper, longer lasting sense of peace that can carry us through difficult times. Psychologist and author Tara Brach suggests we use our innate nurturing tendency to “befriend and attend" to our inner turmoil. By pausing and bringing a “gentle, mindful awareness” to our stress response, we are enabled to “rediscover our belonging to presence, love and life.”
Quiet personal time
Creating quiet personal time helps us discover and develop the following personal resources which help in the discovery of solutions and the strength to endure difficult times:
Focus on all that is going well, noting your progress and gaining the awareness of how a situation could be worse.
Expressing gratitude increases optimism, positive relationships with self and others.
Observing your thoughts, emotions and interactions provides insight and promotes new, healthy thoughts and behavior patterns.
Be open to trying new ways to manage your stress and find methods that are best for you. Most importantly, as you care for others, remember to take care of yourself!
Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
-Marita Pompeani, MSSA, LISW-S, ACHT
About Marita Pompeani, MSSA, LISW-S, ACHT
As a Clinical Social Worker, Marita Pompeani has worked with children, adolescents and adults from diverse backgrounds in a variety of treatment settings for 40 years. She is a Holistic Psychotherapist in the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine. Using a variety of treatment approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral and Mind-Body therapies, she assists patients in the development of personal tools to manage different types of stress, resolve conflict, navigate transitions and major life changes, heal from trauma and address common problems.
- Extreme Self-Care
- Take Care Of Yourself While Caregiving For Others
- Why Women Should Focus On Their Own Health
- Mind-Body Exercises
- Feeling Socially Connected Might Be More Important Than You Think
- Life Transitions: Treating Anxiety and Depression