There were many informative sessions at the 2013 Pennsylvania Conference for Women held earlier this month in Philadelphia. One session that I found helpful was about managing stress and sleep. I was keen to hear any and all tips on how to lower my stress and increase my hours of sleep during my life after 50.
The panelists included: Dr. Vonda Wright, author of Dr. Vonda Wright’s Guide to THRIVE: 4 Steps to Body, Brains and Bliss, Nwenna Kai, author of The Goddess of Raw Foods, Aminah Keats, director of naturopathic medicine at the Cancer Treatment Center of America, and Emily Leaman, health and fitness editor of Philadelphia magazine.
What about stress?
Dr. Wright said that “acute stress can cause cortisol levels to rise and remain high in our bodies which contributes to belly fat, wrinkles, and fatigue. She said that “stress comes from not being in control.” To take control, Dr. Wright recommended looking more strategically at your ‘to do” list. “Ask yourself what are the three things I need to accomplish today? What can be done in five minutes and what may take longer to do,” said Dr. Wright. (I always put too many things on my “to do” list. Perhaps if I put less on my list I will be less stressed at the end of the day.)
Nweena spoke about the importance of maintaining a healthy diet. “Eat foods that are easy to digest like grains, lean protein and greens,” said Nweena. “Most people eat too much protein. Red meat takes several days to digest in your body.” (Good thing I rarely eat meat. I’d rather have fish or chicken as my protein.) She also mentioned other nutritious foods to include in our diets including oatmeal, bananas and avocados.
All the panelists agreed that consuming water was essential to a healthy diet. “Take your body weight and divide it in half,” said Nweena. “That’s the amount of ounces of water you should be consuming each day.” (I definitely need to drink more water. Yep, more water here, Bring on the water!)
Aminah told us that when we are stressed out it impacts our immune system. She advised taking a Vitamin C supplement during stressful times. (I always keep Sugar Free Halls Defense 100% Vitamin C Drops in my handbag as a daily defense. Each drop contains 60 mg Vitamin C.) Nweena recommended consuming various foods to boost your immune system, such as kiwi and oranges which are high in Vitamin C.
Emily talked about the importance of breathing to relieve stress. “Take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth,” said Emily. (That’s why I like being a yogini. We do a lot of breathing exercises in yoga. I also practice mindfulness meditation which helps me relax. Meditation is all about the breathe.)
What about sleep?
Nweena said that “Most Americans eat their largest meal at the end of the day. It’s better to eat a large meal before noon or during the afternoon and eat lighter two hours before sleep.” She added that “sleep is a time for healing the body.”
Aminah said she likes Valerian Root which helps people stay asleep. (I do not like the taste or aftertaste of this herb.) She mentioned that magnesium is a good supplement to take if you have night sweats or cramping. Aminah said that “Epsom salts contain magnesium” and she suggested taking a warm bath with one to two cups of Epsom salts before bedtime. (Ooh, ooh, ooh, I love Epsom salts in my bath. Sometimes I add some lavender oil to my epsom salts for extra relaxation.)
Emily encouraged us to “get your body moving.” “Exercise can be cumulative during the day. Set an alarm on your phone to get up out of your office chair and move around throughout the day,” said Emily. She reminded us to “reserve the bedroom just for sleep.” (I liked Emily’s evening suggestions which mimic my routine. I drink a cup of chamomile tea and listen to soft music to help me relax.) Emily said to “try doing yoga poses including legs up the wall before getting into bed.”
Dr. Wright closed out the morning with words of wisdom for the all female audience: “You are important enough to invest in yourself every single day. You deserve time for yourself.” (I agree Dr. Wright. I agree.)
How are you investing in yourself each day? Share your thoughts.
P.S. – Congrats to Kim, winner of the collection of skincare products. Watch for more giveaways coming soon.