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During an inflight safety demonstration, the flight attendant always mentions the importance of placing your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. For most, this makes sense. How could we be effective in helping others if we weren't taking care of ourselves? However, women often don’t prioritize their health because they are busy taking care of others.
A new survey by Healthy Women and Working Mother magazine shows that "78% of moms said they often put off taking care of themselves or getting their health appointments made because they are so busy taking care of other family members' health." Paula Span's New York Times article, Work, Women, and Caregiving, tells us that women are twice as likely to become the caregiver for a parent or relative than men.
Women juggle a lot. From work to family, there always seems to be so much to do. Here at Greenville OBGYN, we want you to take advantage of the National Women's Health and Fitness Day by utilizing the tips below to prioritize yourself and your health.
One of the most commonly overlooked areas of health is mental health. More than 1 in 5 women in the United States experienced a mental health condition in the past year, such as depression or anxiety, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Not taking time for yourself can be detrimental over time. So, to celebrate National Women's Health and Fitness Day and practice good mental health: treat yourself! Maybe this looks like grabbing a smoothie, doing a face mask, or taking some time just to be by yourself. Whatever you end up doing, make sure it's for you!
When it comes to your physical health you should focus on the three big things: sleep, exercise, and diet. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 35% of Americans report their sleep quality as "poor" or only "fair" and 20% of Americans reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed on any of the past seven days.
"Getting enough sleep improves your health, strengthens your immune system, improves your mood and boosts productivity; chronic poor sleep is linked to poor health, mood disorders, and low productivity." Kristen Knutson, National Sleep Foundation.
How are you sleeping? Are you waking up feeling refreshed or groggy? If you're not sleeping well, you won't be able to efficiently tackle the rest of your day. Many people benefit from having sound machines while they sleep. Try using a white noise or sound app and see if your sleep improves. If you have owned your mattress for more than eight years it is time to get a new one. Sleep specialist show that replacing your mattress every eight years is key to sleep improvement and allergen control. Invest in good sleep, it is important!
The second area of physical health to focus on is exercise. If you exercise regularly but feel like you've become stagnant in your progress, try mixing up your routine! Trying a new class might be just what you need to push you into a new level of physical fitness. If going to the gym doesn't sound appealing, try to get outside in any way you can for at least 30 minutes a day. Some ideas include going to the park, riding a bike, walking, or playing a sport.
The last major area of physical health to focus on is your diet. What you consume daily is so important. A person who exercises daily but has bad eating habits is unhealthier than a person who doesn't exercise at all but has good eating habits. Follow these tips to help form good eating habits:
1. Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain/high-fiber bread and cereals, and low-fat sources of protein
2. Eat more slowly. If you eat too quickly, you may "clean your plate" instead of paying attention to whether your hunger is satisfied.
3. Eat only when you're truly hungry instead of when you are tired, anxious, or feeling an emotion besides hunger.
4. Plan meals ahead of time to ensure that you eat a healthy well-balanced meal.
You probably weren't aware the last time you went out to drinks with the girls or sat down with coffee with your mother-in-law, you were practicing emotional health! We encourage you to use National Women's Health and Fitness Day as an opportunity to open up to a friend, colleague, family member, or spouse about how you're really doing.
Finally, we want to encourage you to take preventative measures and be proactive in your health journey. Take time this week to schedule your annual physical and ask your doctor if there are areas of your health you could be improving, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, vitamin intake, etc. Your primary care physician has a better knowledge of your health journey and can provide you with valuable insight to preventative health care.
Another important preventative measure is your annual mammogram. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and being proactive in your health is the best way to detect illnesses and cancers early. If you're between the 20 and 39 years old, a clinical breast exam is typically performed during routine physicals and should occur at least every three years. After the age of 40, all women should undergo an annual mammogram to screen for possible cancers in the breasts. Here at Greenville OBGYN, we offer 3D Mammography which is the best way to screen for breast cancer in those who show no signs or symptoms.
When's the last time you visited the dermatologist, had a colonoscopy, or scheduled a gynecologist appointment? Don't let these important check-ups slip through the cracks! While you visit with your primary care doctor ask them if you are due to see a specialist and schedule an appointment the same day. As we previously mentioned, women often put their health needs on the back burner because they are busy taking care of others. Being too busy will always be a reason to push back making these appointments, but just go ahead and do it. You'll thank yourself later.