The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health will kick off the 19th annual National Women’s Health Week on Mother’s Day, May 13th. This initiative serves to remind women that their health is important and encourages them to take charge of their health regardless of age or stage of life. The ultimate goal is to inspire women to be as healthy as possible to maximize their well-being, happiness, and quality of life.
5 ways to invest in your health during National Women’s Health Week
Get your check up
As women we are heavily invested in the needs of others often at the expense of our own needs. But if we’re not keeping up with our preventative health it puts us at higher risk of more serious health problems down the road. If you haven’t seen a doctor in a while, schedule a well-woman visit, and your physician can help you get back on track.
Exercise has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and help with sleep. If you’re not into the gym environment try a new fitness class like dance, yoga or cycling to make the experience much more fun. Exercising in a group setting helps us remember that we are in this together and are not alone.
Try to make at least one healthier food choice per day. You could try substituting water in for soda, swap coffee loaded with sugar for tea, or exchange the donut for a bran muffin. These actions are cumulative, and the more you do them, the easier it will be to continue. It won’t take long to feel the difference. When you feed your body well you can function more efficiently, think better, and will inevitably lose weight which helps lower cholesterol, better manage blood sugar, and improve sleep as well as mood.
Break bad habits
Commit to quitting smoking, cut down on trips to the nearest fast food joint, or decrease alcohol consumption. There’s no time like the present to take care of yourself. You only get one body, so it’s important to treat it with kindness.
Invest in your mental health
1 in 5 American adults experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, but there are several mental health conditions that disproportionately affect women.
Below are some important facts from the World Health Organization:
- Depression, anxiety and somatic complaints are disorders in which women predominate
- Depression is the most common women’s mental health problem and is twice as common in women
- Gender specific risk factors for common mental disorders that disproportionately affect women include: gender based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage, income inequality, subordinate social status, and responsibility for the care of others
- Women are the largest single group of people to be affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed
- An estimated 80% of 50 million people affected by violent conflicts, civil wars, disasters, and displacement are women and children
- Lifetime prevalence rate of violence against women ranges from 16% to 50%
- At least one in five women suffer rape or attempted rape in their lifetime
It’s not easy to open about a new or ongoing mental health condition, nor is it easy to talk about traumatic events. There are some things that we just try to forget. But burying the experiences we’ve had and trying to ignore them doesn’t make the problem go away. It is much more likely that the symptoms will resurge, and may even manifest in other ways like physical illness, self-harm, or substance abuse. It is important to remember that mental illness is treatable, and there is help out there. All you need to do is ask.