YOU VALUE: PERSONAL HEALTH
Prioritizing health certainly reduces your likelihood for developing conditions like heart disease and diabetes decades from now, but choosing to eat well, sleep well and exercise today can immediately improve your well-being.
Know that eating a piece of candy will cause a sugar crash? Opt instead to eat an apple, and you’ll rock your afternoon meeting. Feel your best when you drink herbal tea instead of coffee after 3 p.m.? Your sleep will be deeper and more restorative that night.
In forward-thinking wellness circles, the term “self-care” is a trendy buzzword—and for good reason. Women especially are at risk of prioritizing others’ needs over their own physical and mental health, which can lead to a feeling of depletion and increased stress. “If you do not put your needs first, then ultimately you will not be able to perform well and show up for others consistently and happily,” CEO of The Energy Project Tony Schwartz wrote in an open letter to a burned-out employee. Schwartz’s consulting firm helps employees at companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook feel their best and prevent burnout.
It’s also important to remember that self-care is not the same as selfishness. Rather, it’s a radical way to practice and display love. Feel your best, and you can, in turn, be your best for others.
Live it: Priortize sleep—for real
When Arianna Huffington, cofounder and former editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, awoke with a nasty gash on her face after collapsing in her office, she started investigating what success meant in the modern age. By all accounts, she had it all. The Huffington Post was a rapidly growing media platform with a global reach. She had money. She had power. She had respect. But she was stressed out and sleep deprived, a condition of Huffington’s 18-hour work days.
“Even as stress undermines our health, the sleep deprivation so many of us experience in striving to get ahead at work is profoundly—and negatively—affecting our creativity, our productivity and our decision making,” she relates in Thrive (Penguin Random House, 2014), a book outlining her research. Sleep, she found, was a vital but under-valued factor in wellness—nearly a third of Americans are not getting enough of it.
Sleep deprivation is linked to increased risk of a host of diseases, including high blood pressure, depression, obesity, diabetes and memory impairment. A study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that after 17 to 19 hours without sleep, participants performed cognitive and motor tests worse than people who were intoxicated. Read: Driving sleepy is equivalent to driving drunk.
Experts agree that a key to good, restful sleep is establishing a bedtime ritual that can ease your body into dreamland. The National Sleep Foundation contends that sticking to a regular wake-sleep schedule normalizes your internal clock, enabling you to stay asleep for longer. About 30 minutes before you go to sleep, make a small cup of relaxing tea that contains chamomile, valerian root or passionflower—time-tested relaxing herbs.
Also important: Power down your devices before bed. Instead of scrolling through Instagram stories, read a book or magazine, or even better, try meditating for ten minutes. The blue light that emits from glowing screens can interrupt your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Finally, try turning down the thermostat. Research shows that cooler rooms (around 60 to 67 degrees) facilitate deep sleep.