Get your priorities right! 3 things women need to quit doing for their better health

By Samara Mahindra|25th Jun 2018
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Let me begin by saying that I am guilty of each one of these and don’t portray myself as a perfect being by any means whatsoever. My journey in the space of healthcare has exposed me to multiple learnings, however, and that has enabled myself and other women to make concrete healthy lifestyle changes.

There are many areas in which we as women can improve for the betterment of our health, but here are a few which are the most common and can have the biggest influence on your health:

Crash diets

If you have never engaged in any type of crash diet or the ordeal of dieting itself, then you should really give yourself a pat on the back, because you are one in a million! Dieting, unfortunately, has become such a normal phase of a woman’s life that it’s almost considered “normal”. This phase can begin as early as 13 years old and last for the rest of your life. When we speak of dieting (I hate the word) we mean that we are giving up or avoiding certain foods for better health. Unfortunately, we perceive “better health” as losing weight, and that’s where the problem lies. Dieting is not bad per se – avoiding certain foods might actually really help in your overall health.

The problem lies when the foods avoided lead to starvation, fewer nutrients, and overall depletion of the physical and mental functioning of the body and mind. Crash diets condone this. They encourage you to eat limited foods at severely restricted quantities for quick weight loss, but in the bargain affect your hormone levels, metabolism, skin, hair, mental clarity, and physical strength. For short-term gain, the long-term effect is so drastic that I have personally witnessed multiple women with major problems of reproduction, thyroid, and other lifelong chronic ailments.

Hence, before we even think of restricting our diet, it’s important to understand what foods we are avoiding and why along with the long-term effects this might have on our bodies.

Trying to solve world hunger

For some reason, we women think that it’s our prerogative to be the lifesaver for everyone else but ourselves. We’re there when our children, husband, in-law, parent, friend, colleague, neighbour, or even dog need us, but fail to be present for ourselves. Being selfish has been given such a negative connotation that suddenly we are bad people if we put ourselves before anyone else – and this cannot be further from the truth.

We believe we need to be the saving grace for the entire world, but avoid our health in the bargain. I advocate selfishness because no one (not even your children) are more important than you. You might want to give them more importance, but the fact is that you can only give them what you have. If there is nothing much of you to offer, because you have neglected yourself so much, then there is no point. So get your priorities right – that is, priority number one is YOU.

Skipping sleep

This is applicable to more or less most people today. The number one thing we compromise on is sleep, and one of the most important elements of health is sleep. Sleep is when we build our immune system, it’s when cells in the body repair and regenerate, and it’s when the body and mind detoxifies. If you deprive yourself of this, how can your body or mind function appropriately? Lack of sleep is the initiator of many conditions today – from anxiety and weight gain to hormonal imbalances and a weakened immune system. If there is nothing else you can do for your health right now, then I would say give yourself at least eight hours a sleep every night, and you’ll be doing quite a bit.

There are many small changes we can make in the way we live our lives and increase our overall health. I notice that the small and consistent changes are the ones that have the biggest impact. I also notice that neglecting these small changes can have a bigger negative effect on your health than you can imagine. Do the right thing for yourself, because it will count in the long run.

Samara Mahindra is the Founder and CEO of the CARER Program, a post-cancer recovery programme.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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