Fall Clean-up For You

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8 things every woman should do each month
Self-care may be something you do every day, but you can get by with doing certain tasks just once a month.

No, you don’t need to live by the calendar. And this isn’t a list of must-do’s to guilt you into healthy habits. Instead, think of each of these little tasks as ways you can steal a few moments out of each month to pamper and care for yourself. And split them up so you only need to tackle 2 per week!

Be your breasts’ best friend. Despite controversy about how effective breast self-exams really are, this DIY health check is still a smart idea. On some sort of routine basis, like, say, along with your longer Saturday morning shower, spend a few minutes doing the following:

  • Stand in front of a mirror and look for any changes in shape or appearance.
  • First standing then lying down, hold your fingertips close together and gently feel each breast, moving your fingertips in a spiral from outer breast inward to the nipple.

Track your cycle. Mark a scarlet letter X on your calendar the day you start your period – or write a note about Aunt Flo or send yourself a date-stamped text message – whatever it takes to keep track of your cycle. When you know your flow of ovulation and menstruation, you can plan ahead for your period (no more fun surprises!) and for the days when you’ll be at your most fertile.

Schedule your personal maintenance. At the beginning of the month, book any needed salon appointments – hair trim, color touch-ups, eyebrow threading, bikini waxing, pedicures, manicures – or set aside time after a long, hot shower (when your skin and nails will be softened up and primed for plucking and trimming).

Do a quick body review. Since our weight fluctuates a wee bit from day to day, we should all just save ourselves the stress of the morning weigh-in. Check your kilo count, your body mass index and your waist-to-hip ratio just once a month. That way, you’ll have a realistic idea of your body size and any risks that might arise from sudden gain or loss – without feeling hopelessly chained to the scale.

Get a massage. Think the stress-soothing, pain-relieving, energizing benefits of massage are just for the spa-set? Investigate prices in your area, and you’ll likely find that an hour-long session can be had from a licensed massage therapist for less money than you’d expect. And if you’re lucky enough to have private health insurance coverage for massage therapy, take full advantage!

Give your forgotten spots some TLC. So many things demand your attention that you just might forget all about a few parts of yourself – namely, your feet and your elbows. Prone to becoming scratchy and sandpaper-like when ignored, these spots will respond nicely to special treatment. A homemade sugar-and-salt scrub helps to exfoliate, while a velvety coat of baby oil or lotion can seal in the moisture.

Restock your personal pharmacy. Peek into your medicine cabinet to check expiry dates on cosmetics and medications. Examine your toothbrush, which should be replaced every 3 to 4 months or whenever bristles appear frayed. Shake your multivitamin and prescription bottles to see if you’re running low. Check your first aid kit to see if you need to replenish oft-used items like bandages. And assess your “menstrual cycle stash” – do you have enough tampons and pads for approaching periods?

Take an afternoon off. Solo time can get scarce. Once-a-month “me” time isn’t really enough. But try to block out at least one afternoon a month to spend time alone engaged in your pet projects or most hallowed habits. Avoid time-traps – cleaning, to-do lists, laundry-folding – and focus on doing what you love.

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