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Published on August 11, 2015

Eat. Sleep. Exercise. Relax.

Living well as a busy woman

When you’re trying to do everything and be everything to everyone, something’s gotta give. For women, it’s often their physical or mental health.

“I see women who are trying to be the good mom, wife and daughter while working a high-powered, demanding job. Women often strive for perfection, and that just adds to the stress,” said Janell Powell, MD, with Avera Medical Group Internal Medicine Women’s Sioux Falls.

“We can roll along for quite a while, but we’ll eventually hit a wall,” Powell said. That “wall” can take the shape of chronic fatigue, anxiety or depression, worsening high blood pressure, or digestive symptoms such as acid reflux.

Powell advises patients to start with the basics: Exercise, eat well, and sleep well. Unfortunately, women often let one or more of the above “slip.”

“You can find the time to exercise – you just need to set realistic goals,” Powell said. Even if you start with 15, 20 or 30 minutes a day, it’s better than nothing.

As you’re planning your meals and snacks, watch carbs, which can make you sluggish and lead to weight gain. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Don’t skip meals. Not only will you lose energy, you’re likely to make up for those lost calories when you get home, and end up gaining weight.

Sleep can be elusive, especially when you can’t turn your mind off after a busy day. “But sleep is huge. You absolutely need to get good rest,” Powell said. If you have trouble sleeping, taking something to help can be just as important to your health as taking medications to lower blood pressure or high cholesterol. Your provider can recommend over-the-counter remedies, or a safe prescription sleep aid.

“There are those women who feel absolutely overwhelmed, and can’t get their arms around their life,” Powell said. A mild anti-anxiety medication or antidepressant can help women cope.

Beyond the health advice, Powell urges women to learn to let things go. Learn to set priorities. Learn to say it’s “good enough.”

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