Self-Care During the Heat Wave

Temperatures have been breaking records all over the country due to the extreme heat. Not only is it uncomfortable, but triple-digit temperatures can be the cause of illness and even death if you don’t take care of yourself!

Some self-care techniques may seem obvious when you step outside and immediately start sweating. Stay inside where there’s air conditioning, drink plenty of water, and, if you do have to be outside for more than 15 minutes, wear at leastSun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 sunscreen to protect your skin from dangerous sunburns and seek out shady spots and take breaks often. However, there are some facts about self-care in the heat that many are not aware of.

Pools are popular places for residents to go for relief from the heat. The cool water masks the fact that you are still most likely sweating. Also, the pool water can actually focus ultraviolet (UV) rays on to your skin in a more extreme manner than if you were out of the water. So if you think you have less of a chance of getting burned in the pool, think again. Don’t pass up that SPF 30 or greater sunscreen, and apply it often – about every 30 minutes. This also applies to visits to the beach or a lake!

Cloudy, breezy days also seem to encourage folks to come outside. Many people believe that since it is cloudy, their risk for sunburn is diminished. Unfortunately, UV rays easily penetrate even the thickest cloud cover can can burn skin just as quickly as they would on a clear day.

It is true that the best times of the day to be outside in weather like this is in the mornings before 10 a.m. or in the afternoons after 4 p.m. The sun is not high in the sky during these times and UV rays are not as harsh. However, if you are required to be outside for over one hour during the heat of the day, wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat will give you the greatest protection. It sounds backwards, but the clothing will protect your skin and will also help absorb moisture from sweat. In this case, it is essential to stop and drink water every 10 – 15 minutes to lessen the chances of experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It used to be common thought that sugar and caffeine found in sodas and other drinks actually dehydrated the body, but this has been found to be false. However, experts still agree that water is the best option for hydration in temperatures this hot.

It looks like the heat is here to stay for a while, but using the self-care tips outlined above, you and your family can navigate the summer free of sunburns and heat illness.

For Prego Moms: Beat the Summer Heat!

We’ve been discussing all types of ways to engage in self-care.
No time is more important than when you’re pregnant.

Prego Factoid: During your pregnancy, your body produces
approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by this additional blood and fluids. Normal swelling, which is also called edema, is experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet.

Swelling can happen at any point during your pregnancy but is
usually noticeable around your fifth month; it can increase while you are in
the third trimester. Here’s why it happens: Summertime heat, standing for longer periods of time, “long” days of activity, diets low in potassium, higher
levels of caffeine consumption, and too much sodium.

Now for the self-care part! Eating foods that are high in potassium such as bananas and avoiding caffeine can reduce your swelling. Here are helpful hints:

  • Avoid standing for long periods
  • Minimize outdoor time when it is hot
  • Rest with your feet elevated
  • Wear comfortable shoes, avoiding high heels if possible
  • Wear supportive tights or stockings
  • Avoid clothes that are tight around your wrists or ankles
  • Have your legs massaged
  • Remove your rings before your fingers swell up
  • Drink water which helps flush the body and reduce water
    retention
  • Minimize sodium (salt) intake, avoid adding additional salt to
    meals

If you follow a regimen of self-care, you’ll always feel better!  Today’s guest author is Mollee of pregnancy.org.

It’s Summertime-Don’t Forget Yourself

It’s summertime when many of our schedules are crammed with kid and family activities. Several months ago, Susan Wenner-Jackson, co-founder of Working Moms Against Guilt wrote a great post about rediscovering herself after having children. We decided to rerun it so you don’t forget yourself during this busy season.

“As a mom, my only times alone with my thoughts have been 10 minutes in the shower or commuting to work. And guess what I was thinking? “Man, this shower feels good” or “I really hate this $#&@ing traffic.” Deep stuff.

Perhaps because my almost-5-year-old is more independent and my 19-month-old is no longer a baby, I’m now emerging from the mom-cocoon. It also helps that I work for myself, from home, with child care. As I poke my head (antennae?) out, I’m looking around saying, “What about me? What do I want?”

I’m allowing myself to move up my priority list. How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to experience or accomplish? It’s exciting to ponder these questions. I’m still a mom, with all the responsibilities and joys that come with it. But I’m also a person — who’s enjoying getting reacquainted with herself again.”

It doesn’t take long to reconnect with yourself. Spend 15-20 minutes each day doing something you enjoy whether it’s sipping coffee, sitting in a comfy chair daydreaming or painting your nails. Keep your thoughts on yourself and what you’re doing. Don’t let the summer pass by without making me-time. Have a great one.

Laughter: “An Instant Vacation”

I was teaching a self-care class on Wednesday to hair stylists, who certainly do their share of counseling, when one commented she’d seen this great sign, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”  I agree wholeheartedly so when my younger daughter sent me this cat picture a few months ago, I saved it for when I need a good laugh and decided this week to share it with you.  Hope this tickles your funny bone.

“Jabba” the Cat

May “the force” of laughter be with you.  Enjoy your weekend!

Rules of the House

As a psychotherapist, I work with many adults who are still struggling with their childhood “programming.” These are the rules and beliefs that your family of origin used, often unconsciously. It is very easy for someone who grew up in an abusive household to think that abuse is “normal.” Then the cycle continues.

One very common “program” is the “Don’t Rock the Boat” rule. This means that no matter what, family members either act like a dysfunction isn’t there, or try to “sweep it under the rug.” For example, a family with an alcoholic mother may never talk about the subject and may even step over her and keep walking if she was passed out on the floor.

Another common “program” is the, “Everything is Fine” rule. With this belief in place, each member of the family puts on “masks” when they have to interact with other people. For example, the mother and father could be going through an ugly divorce, but the children are all smiles and act as if everything is great. The parents do the same thing when in public.

What these programs have in common is untruth. These families don’t want to express their pain and dysfunction, so they never give themselves a chance to work through their problems. When they get to my office, they can be holding a lot of anger towards their parents, children, siblings or other family members. These folks have a choice: anger or forgiveness. As Kambri Crews, author of Burn Down the Ground says, “Forgiving others and making peace with the cards you have been dealt is within all of us. Generally speaking, people aren’t purely evil or good. Life is much more complicated than that. ” Well said, Ms. Crews.

Self-Care for New Families and Parents

Bringing a new baby home often feels overwhelming and exhausting.  The regular feedings of a newborn, physical recovery from birth, and changes in relationships contribute to the shock experienced by new families. A myriad of information on parenting exists and most theories focus on either the needs of the mother or the needs of the baby.   There is no perfect formula to parenting and no answer that works for every family. Viewing parenting as a relationship can help parents navigate a way that works for their family.

The relationship between a mother and child is symbiotic.  The needs of both members must be met consistently and appropriately or the relationship is jeopardized.  Ensuring the mother is physically, emotionally, and spiritually nourished is essential to her well-being.  When a mother’s needs are unmet, she may feel resentful, depressed, or overwhelmed. When a mother is unbalanced, she cannot provide the positive energy needed for her infant and soon neither party is nurtured optimally.

Self-care is an important part of wellness and feeling positive towards the mothering role. Self-care may include exercise, innercise(breathing, yoga and meditation practices), good nutrition, and activities that make the mother feel energized and good about herself. Couples must take the
time to nurture one another.   When the needs of the mother, baby and couple are met successfully, parents feel confident and families become stronger. Finding the balance and harmony is more important than following a prescribed method of parenting.

Today’s guest author is Jamie Bodily, postpartum doula.

Wait-Watch-Listen

It’s so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of daily life, we often forget that the answers to our problems aren’t instantaneous like a text message.  Because most women are “fixers,”, it’s challenging to wait for the solution to emerge rather than forcing our agenda.  One of the lessons my younger daughter taught me is to take a break when we’re at an impasse rather than pursuing her doggedly which rarely ends well.

Along these lines, I’ve been practicing the skills of “wait-watch-listen” to keep myself from overreacting to situations and build confidence that “the need goes out and the answer appears.”  While I may have been more skeptical years ago, I’ve seen enough evidence now to trust this works.  Sometimes it takes more time than I’m willing to give it, but I’m learning to be patient.

Today I had lunch with a good friend who brought me the solution to a problem I’ve had.  Although I hadn’t figured it out myself, I had decided to wait until a clear answer emerged because none of my ideas had worked.   So I kept telling myself, “Don’t take action or make any decisions until you’re certain of how to proceed.”  I wasn’t, but when my good friend made her suggestion, I knew it was the way to go.

Life has a way of unfolding although not necessarily on our schedule.  The next time you feel stuck, watch and listen for the answer you’re seeking.  It’s well worth the wait!