If, as Mao Zedong said, “Women hold up half the sky,” the Covid era has only enlarged that fraction. Added to the lion’s share of cooking, domestic work and childcare, the female role might now embrace monitoring children’s education, often while working from home, and dealing with omnipresent partners. The result can be a non-stop sense of being overstressed and overbooked.
Dr. Dina Katz, a senior attending cardiologist at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow and member of Northwell Health’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health, has several recommendations for how women can manage their wellbeing during this unprecedented time, and even empower themselves.
“This is a crucial time to take care of our bodies,” says Dr. Katz. “With our routines disrupted, we have an opportunity to make new ones. When I ask patients how much physical activity they take, the most common answer is, ‘Not enough.’ But if we’re no longer commuting, we have extra time that can be translated into exercise.”
Dr. Katz recommends the vast array of online options. Barre classes, yoga, Pilates, and many more can be accessed safely, without going to a gym. And then there’s the great outdoors, which offers not only the power of healing through nature, but safe options to walk with others and get a good workout at the same time.
Nutrition is another major focus. With less opportunity to go out to eat, women are cooking or ordering in more, which allows us to revisit what and how we consume. Dr. Katz advises us to clear out our fridges and pantries and start fresh. “Throw out what’s expired and give away the chips and cookies. Opt instead for healthy produce – fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains.” She encourages a move towards Mediterranean and plant-based diets and recommends the movies Forks over Knives and The Game Changer as useful introductions.
“Diet is a spectrum and we can choose where we want to be on it, making good substitutions – plants over fish, fish over chicken, chicken over red meat.” Again, the web offers a myriad of information and recipe sites.
Last but far from least, do something that will make you happy. And do it for at least a few minutes every day. Listen to music, read, craft, or simply do nothing, just to shut out the rest of the world for a brief time. Dr. Katz particularly recommends meditation as a means of de-stressing and finding peace. “It’s so important to have that restful interval, on a regular basis.”