When we as women take care of ourselves, we can better take care of the rest of the nation. That’s why Discovery Vitality’s head of Wellness, Dr Mosima Mabunda’s self-care list includes blocking out time for herself

What a moment of collective feminine energy

9 August is not just another holiday for South African women. It is an opportunity to draw on the courage and strength that fuelled a massive movement of women in 1956.

Imagine, 20 000 marginalised women of all demographics, many with children on their backs, delivering bundles of petitions against unjust pass laws to the then prime minister?

While women in South Africa and the world face different struggles today, this energy is what helps us tackle the health issues, GBVF, corporate politics, dismantling the patriarchy and more – and it needs replenishing.

We can gain mental strength from reminders such as August 9, but self-care goes beyond this date. It is essential every day.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Those of us reading this are fortunate; we are unlikely to face those macro issues like a lack of maternal care, contraceptives etc. But, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are impacted by other issues – job uncertainty and the pay gap may be widening. I can only imagine how unpaid work has increased as home life has changed, schools close and children need caring for.

“I can only imagine how unpaid work has increased as home life has changed, schools close and children need caring for”

The data is unequivocal – women do more

In regular circumstances, women spend on average seven more years than men, performing household work according to studies by philanthropist Melinda Gates’ foundation. This is experienced worldwide, no matter how developed a country might be. In the United States women spent 90 minutes a day, and in South Africa up to two-and-half hours extra on cooking, cleaning, childcare, and other household tasks.

It not only affects how much women can learn – an extra degree in our lifetimes – but it also affects our socialising and time for leisure. This is key time for self-care that is eaten up by the mundane but necessary work. It is that time for fitness, mindfulness, even taking time for preparing nourishing, healthy food to eat for ourselves.

We know from international research that more and more women are having heart attacks or strokes, or are diagnosed with cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Stress has a profound impact on these conditions and the body.

The good news is that life expectancy for women has increased globally – but only if we take responsibility for our bodies and understand how to make better health possible for ourselves.

My self-care list includes blocking out time to care for myself:

1. Move more: For my body as much as my mind. Good mental wellbeing and mindfulness have a direct link to fitness, even if it is a short walk every day.

2. Take care about what you put in to your body. Nourish yourself with vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet. Conversely, smoking and alcohol have profoundly worse effects on women, than men.

3. Go for regular screenings. Early detection often means successful early intervention. The following are essential for women:

  • Mammograms to detect breast cancer
  • Pap smears to check for cervical cancer
  • Blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index tests to determine the risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.

This Women’s Month and onward, keep in mind the aims of the freedom that the women of 1956 fought for

Start by dividing the labour. Claim back the half an hour, a few times a week that’s needed to improve health outcomes.

This is particularly essential during this unprecedented time. Melinda Gates, a stalwart in modern women’s rights has highlighted the many global and common issues we face, but she also says by addressing our needs at policy level, and personally: “We can emerge from the pandemic in all of its dimensions: by recognising that women are not just victims of a broken world; they can be architects of a better one.” Fill your cup, and then pour from it abundantly.

Happy Women’s Month.

Join Mosima for a Women’s Day workout on Monday 10 August. Details here.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.