Why Women Should Self-Nurture During COVID-19
“A strong woman is the lifeline of her family. She carries within her the power to endure pain and the courage to sacrifice. She has the power to create and nurture life. She is indeed an epitome of love and sacrifice.” – Aarti Khurana
Covid-19 has added more pressure to the already insurmountable load that women carry each and every day – everything from job pressures and family schedules to worrying over finances, career advancement, their children’s emotional and educational needs, and running a household, to boot.
Ever since we went into level 5 lockdown in March most women have potentially had to get used to an even bigger load plus manage their own anxieties during these uncertain times. In many ways, the lockdown has reinforced just how much a woman contributes to the household. Now, over and above her role as a wife, mother and provider, she is also taking on the responsibility of schooling her children at home amongst other added duties during lockdown. Research has revealed that women typically spend at least an extra 90 minutes on childcare and home schooling every day.
South Africa celebrates National Women’s Day on the 9th August, when we pay tribute to the remarkable women who, in 1956, marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to hand in a petition abolishing pass laws which required black people carry pass books wherever they went. However, civil society takes the opportunity to honour South African women from all walks of life during this month, as they successfully negotiate the role of everyday heroes, successfully supporting their families and in doing so, supporting communities and nations.
Women often sacrifice their own health for the good of their families and during COVID-19 it is more vital than ever for women to nurture themselves, too. Here are the 5 best ways women can alleviate stress and stay well during COVID-19:
Take the right vitamins
Mothers generally sacrifice their well-being for their children. This selflessness makes them vulnerable to not getting the right care and support they require. Hence, the regular intake of vitamins assist in keeping their immunities strong. Vitamins C and D as well as Zinc are the new COVID-fighting heroes and should be taken daily. However, there is another important supplement that women should also take and that is Omega 3. This essential fatty acid comes mainly from fatty fish like sardine and salmon but the most effective way of getting enough Omega 3 into our systems is in the form of a capsule. Taking around 1000mgs (usually one tablet) a day not only improves cardiovascular health and helps reduce blood pressure but it also plays an important role in improving mental health. Vegan and vegetarian options are readily available as well
Touch base with friends
Research shows that women need to connect with their friends (especially female friends) more than men do as it stimulates their bonding hormones, serotonin and oxytocin, and makes them feel good. So, don’t let lockdown stop you from regularly reaching out and bonding with your girlfriends online.
Make time to recharge
Rest and sleep are fundamental to preserving our mental and physical health. Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night has many benefits, the most important to keep you well during COVID-19 are:
- Regulates blood sugar and lowers your risk of getting type-2 diabetes
- Keeps your heart healthy because while you sleep your blood pressure goes down and gives your heart a rest
- Boosts your immune system which lowers your risk of getting sick
- Keeps you functioning well mentally and emotionally
Delegate the chores
As women we tend to naturally take charge of running the household and often end up doing all the chores because it’s either quicker just getting it done or we don’t think anyone in the family can do as good a job. To decrease the stress in our day-to-day lives we need to learn to let go of the reins and delegate household chores to other family members. It gives us more time for ourselves to connect with friends or read a good book or watch our favourite television series or take a nap. It also instils confidence in our family members and lets them know they are capable of doing things for themselves.
When we are stressed, we forget to breathe deeply and during COVID-19 breathing correctly has far-reaching benefits, which help lower our risk of getting sick, such as:
- Calming us and decreasing stress
- Keeping us healthy by stimulating our lymphatic system to detoxify our bodies
- Improving our immune response
- Decreasing our blood pressure
- Recharging us and giving us more energy
- Strengthening our respiratory system
As women, keeping our mental health in check is fundamental to how we function within our family unit and how we look after ourselves physically during COVID-19 when keeping calm, well-adjusted and healthy is vital.
If you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, distraught and weepy from stress, it may mean you are burning out and burn out can lead to depression. This would be a good time for you to make an appointment with your doctor who may refer you to a psychologist.
During this important month, let’s honour all the remarkable women in our lives and acknowledge the vital role they play in our families, communities and the nation as a whole.
For more information please contact:
Zoya Naidoo, Registered Counsellor
B Psych (Hons)
Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital
Tel: +27 87 087 0642 or +27 72 642 1598
Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.