Practicing ‘SELF’ care for nurse moms

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This story was originally published on Nov. 24, 2010.

The health care arena is filled with working mothers. Some work because they need to; others because they want to. In either case, the challenge of juggling two jobs is never easy.

Dr. Kathleen Hall is a Georgia working mother who was a speaker at Working Mother magazine’s national conference. Hall, recognized as a stress and work/life balance expert, wrote “A Life in Balance: Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness” and founded the Mindful Living Network.

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Many working women seem to take care of everyone but themselves, she said. At the conference, she offered simple ways to practice her model of S.E.L.F. (serenity, exercise, love and food) care.

Serenity: “We live in an action-oriented society and need more reflection,” Hall said. “We need to slow down and tune up our senses to the life all around us. Right now there’s a drop in the temperature and fall leaves smell sweet.”

A warm shower or short walk will increase the production of serotonin (the anxiety-healing hormone).

"The iPhone has a Zen Timer application. Program a favorite picture or place. Meditate on that for five minutes and then journal about what thoughts, worries or fears come up," Hall said.

A photo or inspirational book of sayings and pictures can serve the same purpose. Hall often gives “Offerings: Buddhist Wisdom for Every Day” by Danielle and Olivier Föllmi as a gift.

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Exercise: “Use movement to restore health and produce energy,” Hall said. “Get a treadmill or stair-stepper and use it while watching a favorite show at night.”

Walk at lunch. Keep a 5-pound weight at work and do some lifts. Learn five easy yoga stretches to get your blood flowing.

Love: “Intimacy is not a luxury. After 40 years of mind-body research, Dr. [Dean] Ornish [at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif.] believes it is critical for our well-being,” Hall said.

Schedule lunch with a friend once a week. "Start a group at work. A walking club or book club will create more community in your life," she said.

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Food: “Eat breakfast. It’s been shown to be one of the most effective mood-lifters,” Hall said. “Women have to take responsibility for their own health. One of the best ways is to eat foods that help prevent disease.” Hall recommends fish, broccoli, blueberries, beans and foods that are rich in B6 vitamins. Bananas, sweet potatoes, turkey, salmon and sunflower seeds help the body produce serotonin.

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