May 17, 2013
Let’s Promote And Celebrate Women’s Health!
The other day I wrote an article about National Women’s Health Week for redOrbit’s main site, but I felt like a blog was important for this topic, as well. Now, let me just say that I believe men also struggle with being healthy for their own reasons, but this week is a celebration of women getting and staying healthy, so this blog will focus on that.
The week started with Mother’s Day, a national day to celebrate the mothers in our lives. Naturally, it is a perfect day to start promoting all women’s health. Then Monday, May 13, was National Women’s Checkup Day while the rest of the week hosts events countrywide. If a woman in your life was unable to make it to National Women’s Checkup Day, help her do it sometime this week or at least help her schedule a checkup. Offer to take care of her kids so she can go.
Why should we focus on women’s health specifically? As the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Women’ Health states, “We all have a role to play in women’s health. Women often serve as caregivers for their families, putting the needs of their spouses, partners, children, and parents before their own. As a result, women’s health and well-being becomes secondary. As a community, we have a responsibility to support the important women we know and do everything we can to help them take steps for longer, healthier, happier lives.” As a woman, I want to help the other women in my life take control of their health and make choices that are best for them. National Women’s Health Week is all about that.
This year’s week is themed around the slogan, “It’s Your Time” to help women get up and out to promote their health. To do so, the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Women’ Health is empowering women to make their own health a priority by encouraging them to take five steps to improve their physical and mental health:
- Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings.
- Get active.
- Eat healthy.
- Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
- Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet, and texting while driving.
Each of these requires much, but if women will start with one and then move through the other five steps, then the task is not as daunting. Women should start with going to a health care professional for a regular checkup and possibly preventive screenings like mammograms or Pap tests. This is an easy first step to owning our health.
During that checkup, women should also talk to their doctors about the unhealthy, risky behaviors. Some of these behaviors will be easy to fix like wearing a seatbelt and not texting while driving, but others will take time and much effort, like quitting smoking. In all cases, though, the benefits to women’s health are worth the effort, time, and possible money.
The last three steps are equally as difficult to manage. Becoming active requires commitment to exercise and activity. That is not easy for many women due to their very demanding lives. If they let their health slip because they see themselves as secondary to their families, then naturally taking time from their families may be hard. But if women would find activities that they each individually enjoy, being active is an easy choice. Maybe an even better choice is to find activities that the family can participate in so that all are being active.
Eating healthy can be hard because once again women focus on making sure their families are eating healthy so much that they forget to eat healthily themselves. Again, talking to a health care professional can help with this tremendously. Women can receive guidance on what, when, and how much to eat. At first, a change in diet may be difficult, but the body and mind will thank you for a healthy diet.
The final step is to pay attention to mental health by getting enough sleep and managing stress. Yeah, right! We all know that these are easier said than done. However, these are crucial to mental health. Health is not just about focusing on the physical health; health is about total care management. One good thing about this step is that if women do the other four, then managing stress and sleeping enough often come as natural byproducts, especially once women start being active daily and eating healthy.
Each step requires dedication, time, effort, and willingness, but women must start to take care of themselves, too. They must do this for themselves, as well as their children, partners, friends, and community. Women must own their health, take control of it, and be responsible for it. It’s your time, ladies. Start today!
Happy National Women’s Health Week to all the women in my life and in yours! Let’s help each other to take those steps…together.
Image Credit: kurhan / Shutterstock