It is National Women’s Health Week, May 10-May 16th, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office On Women’s Health. This is a week where women across the nation are encouraged to focus on their health. We are encouraged to seek help from medical professionals who can help us come up with goals for our health. This includes not only our physical health but our mental health as well. So what are some things we can do?
Go see a general practitioner and get a physical with blood work. This is important, as your doctor can run your numbers and see problems you may not be aware of. You might unknowingly have high cholesterol, or you may have an iron deficiency you are not aware of. You might be overweight or underweight, in which case some dietary changes may need to be put in place. You can discuss pains you’re having or lifestyle changes you may be going through. It is important for your doctor to know these things!
Stay active, or get active. I know with Covid19 and the gyms being closed, some people are struggling to find the motivation to work out. Many of us don’t have home gyms or workout equipment we can use. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stay active! There are plenty of online videos for yoga, pilates, HIIT, etc., that you can take advantage of during this time. Or, put on some tennis shoes and go for a run! The days are finally becoming beautiful, and it’s a great excuse to be outdoors. Whatever you do, it’s important to do something.
Take care of your mental health. With all the uncertainty right now, it’s certainly a good time to be focused on your mental health. I personally see my therapist, through video chat because of Covid19, every other week. I am trying to become a better me, and she is helping me do that. Many of us are feeling anxiety right now, and it’s a good time to focus on ourselves and where we are at mentally. I personally think everyone should be in therapy - it does wonders for you! And, if you are in the position of needing medication, there is nothing wrong with that. There is still such a stigma regarding medication and mental health, and it truly is heartbreaking. I myself struggled with the idea of taking medication, but as I am diagnosed with Bipolar 1, it truly is necessary. There is nothing wrong with taking steps to help yourself when your serotonin and dopamine levels aren’t what they should be, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. If that’s what you and your doctor decide on, don’t let anyone shame you about it. It’s perfectly ok, and in fact better than ok because you are taking steps to help yourself.
Practice good sleep habits. Good sleep is such an important part of our physical and mental health. Without proper rest, our bodies and minds can’t function properly, and yet - “In America, 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perceived Insufficient Rest or Sleep Among Adults—United States, 2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 58:1179) I’ve struggled with insomnia for years, and I’ve done everything imaginable to get sleep. I’ve found that a CBD oil from Bhumi called Tranquil helps, as well as regular exercise and getting to sleep around the same time every night. A pattern for your sleep is the key! Barring that, if you’re still suffering from insomnia, I recommend you go see a doctor to find the underlying causes of it. It could be anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, among many other disorders. Just remember that sleep is essential to health!
Watch your alcohol intake. It’s very easy to drink too much, especially in times of crisis, such as a pandemic. And no one is going to judge you for having a glass of wine with dinner. But if it becomes a crutch, it’s time to take a step back and figure out if drinking has become a crutch. I’ve been sober for almost 9 years and I know just how easy it is to fall into the habit of drinking daily, or binge drinking on the occasions when you do drink. Just be careful not to fall into bad habits, especially at such a strange time in our lives!
Get a Pap smear. It is important for us to take the time to make sure we are cancer free, and getting a Pap smear is another way we can do that. If you’re also sexually active, I’d recommend getting an STD test as well, just to be on the safe side and in the know. Some STDs like chlamydia can lead to infertility if left untreated. The important thing is to know that you are taking care of yourself and are cancer free.
Manage your stress. Easier said than done, right? Well, there are some things you can do to help manage your stress. Try the Mindfulness app, which helps you to manage stress with guided meditations that are easy and fun to do. Eat well balanced meals, and make sure you are eating a good amount of fruits and vegetables. Lavender essential oil, dabbed on the temples, is said to be calming. Stay active, especially when you feel that anxiety is threatening to topple you over. Sometimes all you need is physical activity to get out of a state of “fight or flight.” Seek out professional help from counselors and therapists who are trained in stress management techniques. Keep a journal, and write down the things that are making you anxious. Sometimes just putting a name to the problem can release you from its hold.
There are hundreds of ways to be a healthier you, and these are just a few ideas for you to look at and think about during this week, and hopefully all the ones after! To build a better world, you have to build a better you first. Happy National Women’s Health Week to all the beautiful and brave women out there!