WHERE ATTENTION GOES
Health. It’s something we should prioritise but often don’t. It’s generally the last thing on our ‘to do’ list – behind work, family, relationships, grocery shopping, school runs, replying to emails, housework and looming deadlines. But it also compounds to create an insurmountable mental load, pushing health further down the list.
To support Women’s Health Week, we invite you to prioritise taking a few small and meaningful steps towards improving your health, and to start a conversation with loved ones to share and inspire what the tools of self care can look like.
Emotions are a natural part of who we are. Joy, sadness, laughter, fear, frustration – it’s what makes us, us. However, hormone imbalance, poor diet, stress, traumatic life events and lack of sleep, can heighten emotions and impact on our everyday lives, work and relationships. When we are at our lowest point, we often retreat, not wanting to socialise or project those feelings on others, but this is precisely when quality time with loved ones is most needed. Reach out to a friend or family member when you least feel like it, you may find that they are in the very same position and you can support each other. Create a routine that supports and values quality sleep and a personal toolkit to manage stressful situations and check-in with yourself, and others.
As information overload increases and our attention spans shorten, the simple pleasure of sitting down and reading a book, cover to cover, can seem like a luxury reserved only for a faraway holiday – or retirement. But look at book reading as an exercise in intellectual stimulation and expansion. A muscle that should be flexed regularly. Yes, it is a pleasure, but one that matters. Register at your local library and ask for book recommendations. Join a book club to keep you motivated, or start your own (like Emma Watson did). Podcasts are also a great way to learn and be inspired on the go. Try listening to one on your drive to work to kickstart your morning (and focus your energies towards learning and not the frustrations of gridlock traffic) and cue one up for your drive home as your own personal “me” time. Here are a few of our favourites.
Make a pledge to your body to move it daily. Incorporate incidental exercise into your work or home life: take the stairs, intentionally park further from your office. Step away from your desk at lunchtime and take a walk around the block – set it as a recurring event in your iCal if you need to. Invite a colleague along. Suggest a walking brainstorming or WIP meeting with your team. Instigate stretch-o-clock daily. Change into workout gear before leaving the office to add an extra layer of motivation to exercise. Try out a new gym, yoga studio or activity. Most will offer free trials so you can see if it’s a good fit. Think back to your childhood and what you loved to do. Was it gymnastics, horse-riding, athletics, tennis, netball, rollerblading, swimming? Reconnect with your inner child. Find a way to enjoy being active.
We started the conversation in the office and asked members of the TOM Organic team to share some of their own tools of self care:
Invest in real-life relationships – not just your online ones. Divert the time you might spend scrolling through a social media feed or sending a text and call that person instead. Use messaging services as a means to a more valuable end: grabbing a long-overdue coffee with a friend, organising a girls’ catch-up and stepping outside your virtual world and into a tactile, unedited one. Most of all, put people high on your priority list. Focus on quality over quantity and surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you. If you feel you’re not connecting with your current circle, expand it. This may take stepping outside your comfort zone in the beginning but take the plunge and make an effort to connect with new people, activities and perspectives.
Always keep ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ front of mind, and know that every small change does help shift behaviours and create momentum. Put together a BYO “kit” that you can have on hand when needed. A set of organic, sustainable or upcycled shopper bags, reusable coffee cup and cutlery set is a great start. Buy organic products where possible and support ethical, transparent companies that are actively trying to work with the environment, not against it. Be proactive. Talk to your local council about recycling initiatives or community composting. Organise a clothing swap event with a group of girlfriends or your local community, visit a charity store (you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find) or use online platforms like Facebook Marketplace and eBay to buy secondhand items. Think less about new, and what is new for you. Donate to charity mindfully – don’t use them as a personal dumping ground for your unwanted or old possessions. Many need specific items, it only takes a quick email to the charity or a Google search to check.
Eat wholefoods and seasonal produce (most supermarkets will list what’s in season) and try to limit the amount of pre-packaged, foods you consume. Look for colour and variety. Choose organic where possible, or better still, grow your herbs and vegetables at home. If you live in an apartment or lack outdoor space, approach your local council or body corporate about establishing a community garden (a great activity for kids). Make mealtime less of a chore and more an opportunity to be together. Place your phones away from communal zones and try “no devices after 7pm” nights to disconnect from the distractions of modern life and reconnect with each other over a wholesome, home-cooked meal.
Take a moment to sit down and identify your values. Be truthful. There are no right or wrong answers, write them down in a journal if it helps the process. Check back in with that notebook in six weeks, six months, a year, two years and realign yourself to those values. Try to work through negative thoughts and roadblocks. Be kind to yourself. Every day is a new day and every day is different. Take the time to breathe. It seems simple, but many of us don’t. Our breathing is short and rushed. Look at a baby breathing, the purest form of diaphragmatic breathing. Up, and down, slow and steady. Try it for yourself: Sit or lie down, place one hand on your upper chest and the other below your ribcage. Breathe in through your nose, as deeply as you can, hold for 2-3 seconds then breathe out slowly through your mouth. It only takes a few seconds out of your day, but you’ll be amazed at how activated your body feels afterwards. Make this a daily ritual to re-centre yourself.
During Women’s Health Week we’ll be sharing the different ways women make good health a priority. Join the conversation on Instagram or Facebook – we’d love to hear your personal tools of self care.