May is National Women’s Health Month
May is National Women’s Health Month, a 31-day awareness campaign aimed at encouraging girls and women to make health a priority. National Women’s Health Week also kicks off on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 14), and this year’s theme is “Women’s Health, Whole Health: Prevention, Care and Wellbeing.”
While you may schedule a visit with your doctor when you feel ill or experience pain, a big part of taking care of yourself involves having routine medical visits, too. That way, you can undergo recommended screenings and exams, receive preventative care (much of which may be available to you at no cost) and otherwise stay on top of your health. Also, a growing number of providers now offer telehealth services, making medical visits easier, faster and more accessible than ever.
4 Ways Women Can Put Health First
While seeing your doctor regularly helps you detect and treat conditions early and otherwise feel your best, there are many steps you might take in between visits to maintain your health and wellness. Here are some tips for how to feel your physical and mental best at any stage of life.
1. Make smart food and drink choices
Your diet impacts everything from how much energy you have to how likely you are to develop heart disease and certain types of cancers. Over time, your food and drink choices have a significant effect on most aspects of your health, so make sure fruits, vegetables and whole grains make up a substantial part of your diet. Limit your intake of sugar, salt, and saturated and trans fats, and make sure to get plenty of fiber, as well – research show that most women don’t get nearly enough.
2. Get moving
Most physicians recommend that women get at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday – but if you can get more than that, so much the better. Whether you go for a brisk walk or hit the ski slopes, exercising regularly helps you maintain a healthy weight, combat depression, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check, and sleep better at night, which has its own health benefits. Research shows that regular physical activity also lowers your risk of experiencing many medical conditions and diseases, so take the stairs, bike to work or do whatever else you need to do to hit your fitness goals each day.
3. Be mindful of mental health
Many women take the time to seek medical treatment when physical symptoms arise, but far fewer seek professional care when it comes to their mental health. While counselors, therapists and other mental health professionals may be able to help you navigate anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, there are many things you can do in your day-to-day life to boost your mood and manage stress.
For instance, make time for some fun. Whether that means spending time with friends or curling up with a good book, figure out what it is you find fulfilling, and find the time to do it.
4. Prioritize sleep
These days, people wear “busy” like it’s a badge of honor, but you won’t have the energy get through your day if you aren’t getting enough shuteye at night. Research shows that kids need between eight and 12 hours of sleep per night, while adults need at least seven to function at their best. If sleeping well is a struggle for you, try sticking to a schedule, keeping electronics out of the bedroom, and avoiding alcohol or caffeine within a few hours of bedtime.
While National Women’s Health Week and Month take place every May, maintaining optimum health is a year-round job. By eating right, staying active, prioritizing mental health and getting plenty of sleep at night, you can lower your risk of many different health conditions – and live a longer, healthier and happier life, too.