By Jessica Hoskins
I spend a lot of my time working with mothers from around the world, and one of the common themes for most women is difficulty in putting their own health and wellbeing first.
For many, it feels too time consuming and complicated. But the truth is that some of the most effective daily acts of self-care are often the simplest and most easily implemented. Here are my top 5 achievable but effective suggestions that you can apply today.
1 // Take a little time for yourself in the morning
I know that might sound unimaginable for many mums, but the truth is, how you set up your morning will make all the difference for the flow of your day. Creating even 10 minutes of space in the morning to stretch, meditate or even just take some slow deep breaths can have positive effects on your mental health, increase resilience to everyday stressors and boost your daily productivity.
2 // Turn off screens before bed
Just as it is important to start your day well, it is important to set yourself up for optimal rest and repair. While sleep quantity is usually a variable in motherhood, sleep quality is the key. 60 to 30 minutes before you plan to be asleep consider turning off your phone (sorry, no-more late night Insta-scrolling!). The blue light emitted from electronic devices suppresses the release of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin and will compromise the quality of your sleep.
3 // Eat probiotic rich foods daily
Research shows that the health of our gut bacteria is linked to our brain, immune system, and overall health. More diversity of beneficial bacteria in your gut is likely to equate to better general health. I recommend at least one probiotic rich food daily to increase diversity. Ensure sure that you are boosting the diversity by consuming a good variety of probiotic rich sources. There are lots of delicious and easy options such as sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir, miso soup and pickled vegetables.
4 // Eat more vegetables (especially green ones)
This seems oh so simple, but the reality is that only 1 in 13 Australians are eating enough vegetables! Vegetables are an important part of the diet as they are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Diets high in vegetables have been shown to improve general wellbeing and health outcomes . In particular, green vegetables are a major source of vitamins such as A, C, E and K, and contain many B vitamins important for energy and breastfeeding. They are also a great source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. I recommend to aim for 5 servings of vegetables each day (about 3-5 cups), with at least two of those servings being green.
5 // Mindful Eating
Practicing mindful eating is incredibly important, but often overlooked. There is growing evidence to show that how we approach and partake in a meal is just as important as what we are eating as far as health outcomes. Studies on mindful eaters showed them to have lower body weights and a greater sense of wellbeing. This starts by sitting at the table, putting down the smartphone or laptop, and really engaging with your meal- paying attention to all of the textures and flavours. This one is an important one for the whole family!
Jessica Hoskins (BHSc) is a Nutritionist & Herbalist specialising in maternal and paediatric health at Sage & Folk