In May, we celebrate our mothers and show appreciation for all they do for us. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, it is a good opportunity to reflect on how much mothers typically give of themselves to their family, work, and communities, at times, neglecting their own health and wellbeing to help those around them. It is essential that everyone reserves time for self-care. A woman’s personal health is important to ensure that life is full, active and happy. In honour of Mother’s Day, we would like to talk about women’s health and how mothers can practice a little self-care!
It is not unusual for a mother to raise a family while working or volunteering to build her community. Often numerous priorities compete for her time, which may leave her with little to no time for herself. Unfortunately, due to the demands and stress, women are often vulnerable to health conditions that could negatively impact their quality of life and longevity. In fact, a study1 suggested that 10% of women of childbearing age reported fair to poor health. Among the group, some women reported suffering from mental distress; physical impairment and limitations; anxiety; and, not surprisingly, insufficient sleep2,3–5. All these factors compounded can take a toll on one’s health.
Mothers can take proactive steps to take care of their health at any age to ensure they live healthy lives for themselves and for their children.
- Practice self-care. It is easy to forget to spend time taking care of you. How you spend your time is yours to decide, but the aim is to honour you and your health by giving yourself the opportunity to take a break from activities.
- Nourish your body. You are what you eat? Not exactly, but nutrition plays an important role in your health, energy level and overall wellbeing. Nourishing your body with whole foods will provide the energy you need for the many challenges of parenting including recovering from restless nights.
- Get out and move. Take advantage of the warm weather, spend time with your children and family to enjoy activities outdoors. Not only is exercise good for the body, but reconnecting with nature has been suggested to improve your overall mental health.
- Reach out. Often when life seems overwhelming we tend to seek isolation. However, in most cases reaching out to family, friends, and even healthcare professionals and asking them for help can certainly alleviate the pressures of daily life. Also, at times, a simple text message, phone call or social outing can help you unwind and reconnect. So, go ahead and get connected.
- Say no. That’s right, say no to things that do not serve you or add value to your life. There will always be an opportunity to do more, give more, or sacrifice more, but to maintain your physical and mental health you may have to be selective as to where you dedicate your time. Minimize distractions or unnecessary time wasters and spend time doing things that enrich your life and contribute to your wellbeing.
These measures can help reduce the risks of disease and enhance your overall health.
In honour of all mothers, all Canadians should practice self-care and encourage others to do the same. That being said, this year, take a moment to thank your mother, whether she’s near or far, for her years of work, support and love in honour of Mother’s Day. There’s no better way to help her stay healthy for years to come!
References 1 Ahluwalia, I., Holtzman, D., Mack, K., & Mokdad, A. (2003). Health-related quality of life among women of reproductive age: Behavioral risk factor surveillance system (BRFSS), 1998–2001. Journal of Women’s Health, 12, 5–9. 2 Jackson, D., & Mannix, J. (2003). Mothering and women’s health: I love being a mother but…there is always something new to worry about. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 20, 30–37. 3 Salsberry, P. J., Nickel, J. T., Polivka, B. J., Kuthy, R. A., Slack, C., & Shapiro, N. (1999). Self-reported health status of low-income mothers. Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 31, 375–380. 4 Nicholson, W. K., Setse, R., Hill-Briggs, F., Cooper, L. A., Strobino, D., Powe, N. R., et al. (2006). Depressive symptoms and health-related quality of life in early pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 107, 798–806. 5 Da Costa, D., Dritsa, M., Rippen, N., Lowensteyn, I., & Khalife, S. (2006). Health-related quality of life in postpartum depressed women. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 9, 95–102.