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TODAY experts offer women advice on life during and after pandemic

“The key is, you would never cancel a meeting with your boss. Don’t cancel a meeting with yourself."
/ Source: TODAY

TODAY honored International Women’s Day on Monday in our Women Are Essential live event, in which women got together in Zoom rooms moderated by Sheinelle Jones, Natalie Morales and Jenna Bush Hager to discuss their concerns in the face of the pandemic.

NBC News senior business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle and NBC News investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen also participated, fielding questions about how to navigate life going forward.

One question was about finding “me time” when there is so much to balance.

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“It is easier said than done, but you have to schedule that me time into your routine the way that you would schedule anything else and make it a priority,” Nguyen said. She noted that scheduling physical activity helps her and that she makes a point to take walks with her family.

Nguyen also said her and her family may take an exercise class on YouTube if the weather doesn’t cooperate and that even three minutes of exercise — one minutes of situps, one minute of squats and 25 pushups — can go a long way if you find yourself pressed for time.

“The key is, you would never cancel a meeting with your boss. Don’t cancel a meeting with yourself," she said. "If you schedule it, make it a routine. It’s consistent, whether it’s taking a bath, having a meal by yourself, putting aside half an hour to read a book, whatever it is that helps you center yourself, if you can do that at least four to five times a week, you will feel better for it.”

Money, of course, has been a big issue for women during the pandemic. Another participant asked for a forecast for families to get back on their feet financially, and whether young adults living with their families to save money will become a new norm.

“There is no one COVID financial takeaway,” Ruhle said.

“It’s going to be a long road back,” she added about people who moved back in with their families.

And while many people’s financial outlook may have changed over the last year, Ruhle did say household savings “have hit record highs” because millions of people who didn’t lose their jobs have elected not to spend money since there were not a lot of places to do so. She said that may change down the line.

“We might see in the coming years a lot of adults who did save money start to travel a lot more, try to regain the life experiences they missed in the last year,” Ruhle said. “But for anyone and everyone, the real key takeaway: When you can, where you can, save money. We all learned in the last year you don’t know when something like this can hit you.”

Another question touched on finding community with others when we can’t actually be with them in person.

Nguyen pointed out that the weather is warming up — and since we’ve been in this pandemic for a year, so we know how to gather safely.

“If you have your quarantine pod and they’re anywhere near you, getting that physical social interaction and being outside, those are all things mental health experts say are known mood boosters,” she said. “Getting in contact with nature, moving your body. Mental health and physical health are so connected.”

To that end, Nguyen recommended joining or starting a walking group, while also continuing to wear masks and remaining socially distanced, as a way to be social.

If getting together is not a viable option, Nguyen also said it’s a good idea to schedule virtual meetings “with people who make you feel grateful” or inspire you.

“If you can get together and have those meaningful connections, even if it’s over a video conference, it helps to recharge those batteries, so make that a priority to find those connections again and soon with the vaccinations, hopefully we’ll be able to these conversations in person,” she said.