Self-Care is a big trending topic and an important concept we want to explore with hormonal vitality in mind. First, Self-Care is not a synonym for pampering nor does it require investment in everything from candles to special pajamas. Self-Care encompasses the actions taken to promote good health and well-being as well as the prevention of illness. There is no better time than now to incorporate principles of self-care for optimized vitality!
We are going to share some of the most important actions you can kick off today that will have the biggest, most immediate impact on your well-being. Restful sleep, addressing some of the side effects of the digital world and how to optimize your body’s own natural detox capabilities are addressed here and more topics will follow.
Getting restful sleep is a key wellness foundation - for adults that is at least 7 hours each night, and ideally 8 hours. Sleep deprivation is a key Venus Interrupter - our term for the things that throw off hormonal balance and vitality, including the way we look, feel and think. Lack of adequate sleep not only affects our hormonal wellness, it also has adverse affects on other areas of our health including elevating risks of heart disease, hypertension, depressed immune function, weight gain, diabetes, mood disorders, and the development of dementia - as outlined in a Harvard Medical summary.
Many people struggle with getting proper sleep for a myriad of reasons - and a major contributing factor is constant stimuli such as an always-on work culture, smart phones pinging, social media, and streaming videos (including that streaming "watch next episode" button we cannot resist). We all know about limiting caffeine and alcohol prior to bed, sleeping in a dark cool room and other standard sleep tips. Another interesting framing of sleep caught our attention by Dr. Hasan Merali, a pediatrician, who urges: if you want the deep, restful sleep of a child, then put yourself to bed like a toddler.
"Before you turn to books, blogs, sleep-coaches, apps, or one of many products in search of a more satisfying slumber, you might want to consult a toddler. Luckily, there are millions of these tiny advisors waddling around, ready to serve as top-notch sleep role models."
The same simple steps that help lull overstimulated 2-year-olds to sleep also work for overstimulated adults, Dr. Merali argues. His research shows the principles of good toddler bedtime practices are effective at any age and are based on routines that signal and help us transition to restful sleep.
Set a fixed bedtime schedule - regular bedtimes help toddlers sleep and this is equally important for adults. VENeffect Co-Founder Dr. Rebecca Booth advises her patients to set a routine for sleep and stick to it, just as you would for your children.
Take a warm bath or shower - Dr. Merali cites a clinical review of 13 published studies that show a warm bath or shower within a couple of hours of bedtime significantly improves the quality of our sleep as adults.
Try a night time herbal tea ritual - Not unlike warm milk for a toddler, chamomile has a mild relaxing effect that can ease night time food cravings and the polyphenols in tea are immune boosters, augmenting something your body performs naturally during sleep.
Wrap up your routine with reading - "Researchers found that language-based bedtime routines were associated with longer nighttime sleep duration," says Dr. Merali, summarizing the results of a large Princeton University study of children. He adds: "Adults have also been shown to benefit from reading. Even 30 minutes of reading can decrease stressful feelings, reduce blood pressure, and lower heart rate". We recommend reading a physical book or a print magazine, rather than an electronic device which emits light that can stimulate the brain and suppress the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making us drowsy.
Try meditation - While toddlers often drift off to lullabies, Dr. Booth recommends a visualization meditation: carefully visualize your ideal next day starting with your feet hitting the floor in the morning, and mentally construing every little detail of the day as you wish it to be. Chances are you won’t get past visualizing the sleepy-eyed walk to the coffee pot, but if you do, odds are that your next day will go exactly as you have seen it in your mind’s eye. Many star athletes swear by visualizing as a key to their success.
Maybe melatonin - If sleep still evades your efforts after all of the other steps, consider a good quality Melatonin supplement: 3 mg, 30 minutes before bedtime. Melatonin has been shown to help with insomnia in children and may have some positive immune-boosting effects.
We touched upon how the constant stimuli from our phones, computers, television, and online media contributes to sleep deprivation. This always-on work culture combined with our personal digital consumption is leading to stress, anxiety, procrastination, depression, lower productivity, and musculoskeletal problems. It also chews up time that could otherwise be spent on activities that contribute to our wellness such as exercise, hobbies, preparing healthy meals, meditation, and activities with friends and family.
We already covered that leaving digital devices out of the bedroom will improve the quality of sleep. You may want to consider taking it one step further by taking timeouts from using electronic devices or certain media for a period of time throughout the day.
Examples of things to avoid during a digital timeout include: scrolling social media; text messaging; checking email; using smart phones or tablets; watching news on TV or bingeing on a great TV series. Here are some specific strategies to get you going on your Digital Detox:
Social Media: schedule two small blocks of time - for example, a 15 minute block in the morning and another 15 minute block in the afternoon. Social media is designed to hook the user - Youtube automatically advances to the next video. Facebook, Instagram & Twitter have infinite scrolling. One way to resist temptation outside of the short blocks of time, is to turn off social media app notifications.
Limit time dedicated to Email: - instead of constantly checking email, schedule designated time to review & respond to emails. Turn off email notifications on your phone. If you have an important task - do that first before checking email so you don't get caught in the endless new tasks or distractions your emails create.
Create a digital "hard stop" - set a time in the evening when you push away from the computer, put away the phone and commit to not using either until the next morning. Try taking a vacation from your phone and computer for an entire day on the weekend. You might be surprised at how liberating it is not to have that constant pinging.
Save your streaming TV series bingeing - for sharing with friends or loved ones or during exercise when the adrenaline surge is a positive. Don’t lose precious wind-down time at bedtime to TV or electronic media., reading is much more conducive to inviting your brain to make natural melatonin to help you fall asleep.
In the name of Self-Care, there is an upswing in the topic of Detox. The internet is full of articles and products designed as a quick fix detox. The truth is, your body has miraculous Detox engines called the liver, kidneys and lungs. And the Venus Effect eating plan, designed to optimize hormonal wellness, also creates the optimal environment to support your built-in natural detox systems.
Increase plant protein - including nuts and nut butters, seeds, lentils, and legumes all rich in proteins, healthy oils and loaded with phytoestrogens which lowers insulin resistance, helping to keep blood sugar stable. Almond butter, chickpeas, flax, chia, edamame are great options.
Reduce sugar and simple carbs - Tweak your recipes to use lower glycemic ingredients/food substitutes. For example, replace white flour with chick pea, almond or coconut flour. Try training yourself not to use sugar or sugar substitutes in your coffee or tea and if you do, go for stevia, monk fruit or natural low glycemic sources.
Increase colorful veggies - such as organic roasted brussel sprouts, kale, chard, or roasted peppers. These deeply colored veggies are prebiotic and loaded with vitamins.
Drink more…wait for it, you know–H20, the elixir of life. Four to eight 8 ounce glasses a day will help your built-in filters (liver, kidney, and lungs) work much more efficiently. Consider purchasing a water filter to improve the taste (and purity) of your tap water.
Sweat more: While tiny, sweat pores help eliminate toxins that build up just from the machinery required for daily life. Exercise increases connections between neurons, helping to clean the brain cobwebs, increasing your heart rate and increases the efficiency of your built-in filters.
The Venus Effect Supplements:
Omega-3 oils: 1000 - 2000mg a day. Whether from supplements, fish or from vegetarian sources like flax seeds, these mighty molecules act as natural lubricants for the skin, joints and eyes. Not only do they help you have that youthful glow, they are great mood stabilizers.
Vitamin D: 1000 IUs a day. Vitamin D is vital for healthy collagen and connective tissue.
Vitamin C: 100mg of vitamin C a day. Vitamin C is absolutely vital for collagen health, and while very few of us are deficient, it is a good habit to make sure that you take it daily to maximize healthy skin.
Folic acid: 400 to 800 mcg a day. While many experts question the value of a multivitamin, most agree that folic acid, a B vitamin, is vital for good metabolism, the key to hormone balance so reflected in our appearance.
Biotin: 600 mcg a day for fuller hair and healthy nails
Find our downloadable supplement recommendations here.
In addition to diet, read more about the other components Venus Effect Lifestyle that not only promote hormonal wellness and beauty but also an optimal environment for liver, kidney and lung health.
About Rebecca Booth M.D.:
Rebecca Booth, M.D. is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who has been practicing medicine for over 30 years as Co-Managing Partner in one of the largest OB/GYN practices in the southeast of the United States: Women First of Louisville. She is a nationally recognized expert in hormonal wellness and author of The Venus Week: Discover the Powerful Secret of Your Cycle…At Any Age (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2008). She, together with her sister Cecil Booth, founded an anti-aging skin care line, VENeffect, with a breakthrough phytoestrogen technology to replenish lost elasticity and luminosity. She has appeared on The Today Show and been extensively featured in leading women’s magazines including O: The Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Glamour Shape, Prevention, and Self. She has been published in leading medical journals. Dr. Booth earned her medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. She resides in Louisville, Kentucky.
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