Women's Health Month | New Orleans women share the best health advice they ever received
I came across a quote that said “Take care of your body; it’s the only place you have to live.” I never understood what that really meant until this year. Sure, I schedule my annual physical, wellness visits, and even take my blood pressure medicine ALMOST every day. I check all of the boxes when it comes to healthcare. Taking care of my body is more than doctor’s visits and prescription refills. As a pharmacist, I’ve counseled patients on how to take their medications and what side effects to look out for. In school, I also learned about nonpharmacological treatment. That’s a big word which basically means treatment without medicine.
Lifestyle can be stronger than medicine
There are some conditions that can be managed without medication. Your doctor may tell you to change your diet or exercise. These lifestyle modifications may prevent you from starting on insulin or blood pressure medication.
When we think about health conditions, there are some which immediately come to mind. High blood pressure, diabetes and asthma are common. COVID-19 definitely raised awareness. After the loss of my husband in 2019, I realized that grief affected my health. Grief can cause headaches, chest pain, fatigue and stomach pain. I began to have panic attacks. My blood pressure started to increase. This was taking a toll on my body. I was exercising and eating right so how could this be affecting my health?
Fight or flight is real
I work full time, and I am a widow mom. I became so focused on making sure that my 5-year-old son was doing ok that I neglected myself. Flight or flight is a real thing when you are trying to keep everything together. I was internalizing my grief and it was making me sick. It was time to take better care of my mental health. Self-care is just as important. Making time for myself would seem impossible, right?
“Take care of your body; it’s the only place you have to live.”
Self-care is so much more than bubble baths and spa days. It’s about putting yourself at the top of the to-do list. Grief is hard, and I had to find a way to check in with myself.
Here are 3 things that I do daily:
- Listen to a meditation or do a breathing exercise. Download a free meditation app or watch a You Tube video. Find a quiet place and calm your mind. Just as little as 5 minutes a day can make a difference.
- Recite a daily affirmation. Affirmations improve clarity and help the grieving process. Something as simple as “I allow myself to feel my grief and then let go.”
- Write in a journal. Journaling helps to work through thoughts and feelings. It helps to put the words on paper. A sample journal prompt could be “Today I am really missing..”
These daily practices have helped manage my grief. Grief is not linear and is definitely not predictable. We must remember to make ourselves a priority and practice self-care on a regular basis and not wait until we are burnt out. We only get one body, so we must take care of it.
Dr. Alisha Reed is a widow, mother, pharmacist, life coach and creator of the lifestyle brands, NOLA Bougie and Fly with Alisha Reed. After the sudden loss of her husband in 2019, Alisha created “Fly with Alisha Reed” to share her journey of grief and loss in real time. She hosts The FLY Widow Podcast and sells FLY Planners and Journals, while also continuing to inspire other widows and women struggling to find joy and courage, to live life with passion, purpose and to “First Love Yourself.” Alisha is a wellness advocate, mentor and ambassador for the American Heart Association.