How do I prioritize myself and my health when my world is so upside?

By Justine Friedman

If you are feeling frozen, if your thoughts are focused on safety and living through today, then it is likely that you may well also be thinking, what difference does it make if I eat the chocolate bar right now?

And I get it. There are times during the last 3 weeks (which feels more like an eternity) when I have given into the comfort foods and allowed myself to opt out of the world for a period of time.

I may not be on the front lines of this war, and I may not have a soldier who is risking their life for this fight which will determine whether we as a nation survive, but I feel every last drop of it in my heart and soul and more distinctly in my nervous system.

With every siren and with every boom, some of which are normal sounds in the building where I live, my body reacts with a strong survival instinct. My heart races, my breathing quickens, and a knot forms in my stomach.

And it takes time to calm down again.

There are moments when I am distracted and I realize that I haven’t thought about the war, what a sweet relief these times are, and then the reality returns.

I am living with a sense of intensity and pressure that is so hard and I am sure you are too.

So back to my question, is it even realistic to focus on my health or should I put that on the back burner while there are more important things to deal with right now?

Here is why in whatever capacity you can, I encourage you to value taking care of yourself.

As women, we are the core of our families. How we function has a ripple effect on our husbands, children, and our extended family and friends. We don’t have to have it all figured out, or have it all together but neglecting ourselves right now serves no one, especially ourselves.

Back when corona began, many of us endured the time baking banana bread, lounging in pyjamas, and feeling generally unmotivated and out of sorts. And even though what we are living through right now can’t be compared, there are aspects that feel similar.

It is so normal to push off taking care of ourselves, but when we are running on empty and we have nothing to give, we suffer more and those around us, who rely on us to be an anchor have a harder time.

“It doesn’t matter, nothing matters I don’t care what I eat right now” the inner scared voice may say….

But it does matter! And not only does it matter but taking time to nourish your body right now can make a difference in the most profound way.

We all know how stress can impact the body.

It affects our brain, causing memory loss, inflammation, and brain fog.

It raises our blood pressure leading to extra stress on our kidneys and every cell in our body.

It increases heart rate and risk of heart disease.

Anxiety and depression are intensified by poor food choices.

And as women symptoms of PMS, perimenopause, and menopause are exacerbated.

If you have pre-diabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or autoimmune conditions, taking care of yourself is the difference between suffering from these and dealing with long-term complications versus reversing some of the ill effects.

So how can you take care of yourself without adding extra pressure? Because the last thing I am suggesting is that you eat less, exercise harder, and deprive yourself of foods that you enjoy. 

(Even as I am writing this there are booms close by as the iron dome intercepts rockets being fired from Gaza!)

Here are some tips on what I am currently doing and working together with my clients on to implement in their lives:

Drink water- being hydrated helps your brain and improves your cognitive ability

Limit caffeine if anxiety is worse at this time

Do light exercise and if you are able to do more then go for it- it reduces stress, increases the production of endorphins in the body, and overall improves mindset and mood.

Pay attention to your hunger- if you have lost your appetite- still nourish your body by eating smaller, balanced meals- this helps keep your blood sugar stable and reduces symptoms of anxiety.

If eating chocolate (or your desired comfort food) is what you need, by all means, have some but do so after a meal where you have included vegetables, salad, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein.

Take time to breathe and do stress-relieving exercises that work for you.

Limit time on social media and the news- it is important to stay informed but if what you are “consuming” is increasing your worry and stress then pay attention to this.

Connect with friends

Smile at people that you pass on the street

Wave to the soldiers- there is nothing better than getting a smile and acknowledgment back!

We are all in this together, and although it feels like we are living a double life in many respects, let’s find a way to live each day, right now in the best way that we can.

You cannot pour from an empty cup and if you need guidance on how to take care of yourself right now, with compassion and understanding, then let me help you to do that so that you can take care of those who are depending on you too.

About the writer:

Justine Friedman works as a clinical dietician and a mindset mentor. She has over 20 years experience in supporting clients to make sustainable and practical lifestyle adjustments. Her focus is empowering women over 40 to make the necessary changes to feel confident with their food choices and at peace with food, while at the same time managing their weight without restriction or guilt. She works with women both 1:1 as well as in her online signature group program, “The Wellness Upgrade”. For more information visit her website on

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

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