The month of May is a special month for women as we celebrate Mother’s Day on the 14th and Women’s Health Week from the May 14 to 20. Women spend much of their time taking care of others – children, spouses, parents, friends and siblings, but in their busy lives they often forget to take care of themselves. Today’s multi-tasking woman is stressed and will often cut corners to meet the demands of their everyday life. Poor nutrition, lack of sleep and not enough time to exercise leave you tired, drained and overwhelmed. As we invest our time in our families, our careers and our education, we must remember to spare some time to invest in ourselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages women to make their health a priority too and take simple steps to live a safer and healthier life. Here are a few things women of every age can do to take care of themselves.
Your mother may have told you to, “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” Well, Mom was right… Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health. Most fruits and vegetables are filling and naturally low in fat and calories. Aim to eat a rainbow of different colored fruits and vegetables every day for optimal health.
Limit drinks high in calories, sugar, and alcohol. Your best bet is to keep it pure and simple by drinking eight 8-fluid-ounce glasses or 64 fluid ounces of water per day. You can even liven it up by cutting slices of lemon, lime, orange or other fruits into it, to make a delicious, refreshing drink. Avoid energy drinks; even the ones that claim to be low in calories are full of caffeine and can cause heart palpitations and the jitters.
Add physical activity to your life; it’s one of the most important things you can do for your health. There are many benefits to physical activity. It can help:
- Control your weight
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduce your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
- Increase your chances of living longer
Exercising can be as simple as getting up from your desk to stretch and walk outside to get some fresh air or as intensive as a full hour of an ‘Insanity Workout’ at the gym. Simply find something you like to do and do it for 30 minutes every day or at least five days a week. Remember – any exercise in any amount is better than none at all!
Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. How you feel and perform during the day is related to how much sleep you got the night before. The recommended amount of sleep for the average woman is 7- 9 hours per night and studies show women on average need 20 minutes extra sleep than men. Why you may ask? To give our multi-tasking brains just a little more time to recover before the next day’s challenges begin.
Stress can be beneficial by helping you develop skills to cope with and adapt to new and potentially threatening situations throughout life. However, the beneficial aspects diminish when the stress is severe enough to overwhelm your ability to take care of yourself and your family. The best ways to manage stress are through self-care:
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- Find support
- Connect socially
- Stay active
When life becomes overwhelming and you need a little extra help, talk to your health care provider, or contact your behavioral health team who are trained to help you work through these moments. Family life consultants, Chaplains and many other resources are available in the military community. Never hesitate to seek help, and remember you are never alone.
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Taking steps to lead a healthy lifestyle always pays off in the long run. Whether you start early or later in life, positive health changes will help you to live a long, active life and keep the misery of chronic diseases at bay. Change can be difficult but your healthcare team will be there to support your efforts in any way that they can. Here are a few things you can do to help yourself:
- Before getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about preconception health care. Be sure to tell him or her about any medical conditions you might have, such as arthritis, diabetes, eating disorders, high blood pressure, and sexually transmitted diseases
- Stop smoking. If you are attempting to quit smoking, contact your medical professionals for Tobacco Cessation assistance and programs. It is no secret that tobacco use is the arch enemy of good health. The long term effects of smoking or using smokeless tobacco can be devastating. The best time to quit is now so start thinking about it and when you are ready, talk to your health care provider who will help you on your quest to be tobacco free.
- Get regular health check-ups. Early detection and intervention can and does save lives. Talk to your health care provider about screenings that are recommended for your age group, whether you are 25 or 65. Breast cancer screenings, Pap smears, blood pressure checks, Thyroid Function Tests are just a few of the routine screenings that can help you achieve your goal of a long and healthy life. Routine maintenance is not just for cars!
- Check yourself. Many women experience depression, including pregnant women, postpartum women, and women who are not pregnant. Depression is common, especially in the high achieving multi tasker. If you are worried about the way you have been feeling, it is important to tell a doctor or nurse about your concerns. If you are thinking about harming yourself or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately.
Women’s health is important. It is important to the children, the spouses, the friends and the family members that are enriched by their presence. By celebrating Women’s Health Week, Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic aims to put a spotlight on women of all ages to help them live long, live happy and live well. Join us at the Army Wellness Center on May 15, 17 and 18 from noon to 1 p.m. for a series of lectures on Women’s Health issues or contact Army Public Health Nursing at 06371-9464-1374 or DSN: 590-1374 for more information.
Women’s Health Week at the Clinic
May 14 through 20 is National Women’s Health Week, and the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic is offering a lunch time series of lectures dedicated to the health and wellness of women. Please join us for the following presentations:
Monday, May 15: “Food and Fitness for the Multi Tasking Woman”, presented by Lisa Cox, MS, ATC, CSCS
Wednesday, May 17: “Pregnancy and Beyond,” presented by Doreen Caton, BSN, RN
Thursday May 18: “Staying Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit”, presented by MAJ Rosemary Wosky, APHN, MSN, RN–BC
Where: The Army Wellness Center Classroom, Bldg. 1201
Time: noon to 1 p.m.