Six Self-Care Tips for Women
In the U.S., more than 10 percent of all women ages 18 and older are considered to be in fair or poor health. Some of the leading conditions plaguing women in America include heart disease, obesity, stroke, cancer and depression/anxiety.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways women can take control of their health and significantly reduce the risk of serious health issues.
- Build relationships. According to the Mental Health Foundation, physical and mental well-being is greatly influenced by relationships with friends, family and the community. Not only does socializing boost happiness, it can strengthen the immune system and decrease the likelihood of dementia. A great way to form relationships is to get involved in community groups or join a club that focuses on specific areas of interest.
- Challenge yourself. Whether it’s facing a fear or reading up on a new topic, leaving your comfort zone and continuously learning is a fundamental part of self-growth. Though new experiences are often uncomfortable at first, embracing the unknown can improve mental sharpness, maturity and self-confidence in both personal and professional settings. Chronic boredom has been shown to increase the risk of depression/anxiety, attention deficits and emotional issues.
- Eat right; drink water. The dietary needs of women vary based on age, race, lifestyle and health history. The most common nutritional deficiencies among U.S. women include iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. A well-rounded diet representing all major food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein, probiotics and prebiotics) can nourish the body while lowering the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, depression/anxiety and obesity. Drinking at least 8-10 ounces of water daily carries equal importance.
- Find balance. Prioritizing time to disconnect from the responsibilities of being a mom, wife and/or employee improves physical and mental wellness. Whether it means setting aside time to read a book, meditate or just be alone—asserting personal needs on a regular basis has the potential to increase satisfaction in all facets of life. Chronic stress at work and home takes a toll on the mind and body in a way that can lead to more serious health conditions down the road and double the risk of a heart attack.
- Get active. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity daily. Women who stay physically active are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other chronic conditions. Regular exercise has also been linked to a better mental state, significantly decreasing the risk of depression and anxiety.
- See a doctor. When women establish a relationship with their primary care provider, it becomes easier to assess the risk of health issues, manage existing conditions and detect unidentified symptoms. Some of the most prevalent health screenings for women to keep in mind include:
- Blood Pressure Test
- Bone Mineral Density Test
- Breast Cancer Screening
- Cervical Cancer Screening
- Cholesterol Test
- Diabetes Screening
Photo credit: Pat David (feature)
About the author: Dr. Patricia Ferguson, MD, is a physician consultant and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provider.