May is the month all about women’s health! It is a time to get our last bit of spring cleaning done and to readjust any life choices we have been neglecting during the winter. Winter is known as a time for hibernating and for a bit of overeating. As summer approaches, it’s time to consider shaving off winter pounds so we can fit into last year’s bathing suit. Or, if we simply want to think more cautiously about the food we put into our bodies. It all equates to our general well-being and how much time we have on this earth. This is the time to think, plan, and challenge yourself to develop that healthy lifestyle! It is equally important to recognize this month as a time to reflect on the state of our mental health!
So, without further ado, let’s discuss the benefits of taking care of and re-examining our physical and mental health!
Lifestyle Choices: Poor Sleep, Low Energy, No Fun!
Picture this: you’re busy at work, and you are minutes away from completing your weekly assignments. Luckily, right before the midnight deadline. You’ve decided to stay late today, in order to be considered for next week’s promotion. You have one more page to review, and as you click on it, you hear a loud grumble. YOU’RE HUNGRY! You run to the nearest vending machine, stock up on 3 or 4 bags of chips and chug down your 4th Gatorade of the day. And this, my friends, is your dinner. You finally make it home at about 1:30 am. You hop into bed, only to toss and turn for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time you’ve done this, nor will it be the last. The average American–according to a Mother Jones article called Can’t Sleep? Your Dinner Might be the Problem–tends to have a horrible diet, lacking in fruits and vegetables and chock full of ultra-processed crap and excess sugar.
Poor sleep can also lead to other bodily, diet-related connections such as obesity and diabetes. For women especially, loss of sleep over time can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression. As far as adequate nutrition, according to research done at Binghamton University, women may need even more than men to support things like mood. In short, your lifestyle is interconnected to the daily choices you make. One bad choice leads to the next, and then the cycle begins. But the real question is, when will it end?
Hooray for Women’s Health Month!
Luckily, Women’s Health Month is here to inform, empower and remind women that it is extremely important to make it their mission to prioritize their health, as well as help women make a change for the better. One thing that this month encourages us to remember is to schedule annual physical health appointments. Keeping up with health visits like PAP smears, mammograms, bone density scans, stress tests, cholesterol screenings, blood pressure screening, and physical exams help you stay up to date with anything you may need to give extra attention to. Another way to improve your health is by maintaining a healthy weight. While there shouldn’t be an exact number to look for, paying attention to weight fluctuation and your gut health, lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many different cancers.
This month also reminds us of staying active, which is another important action you can take to stay on top of your health. Again, how much time you choose to spend doing physical activity varies. A good place to start may be a 15 to 30-minute walk a few days throughout the week. Doing your research and creating your own personal routine is a good idea as well.
Stress is something a lot of women struggle with, along with mental health and unhealthy food habits. They all go hand in hand, so it’s recommended to think about finding a therapist. Also recommended are meditating, tracking your snack intake, and making sure that vitamin D and calcium are priorities on your food intake list. All this new information you’ve just learned may play a hand in your stress as well but don’t fret. Leo Babauta, author of A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating, encourages her readers to start small and only do one small change at a time, pointing out that changing everything all at once may be stressful and drive you to quit.
Words of Encouragement
For all of us, eating right, sleeping right, doing mental health right, etc., can be difficult. But if you take baby steps, gradually educate yourself and incorporate the essentials, it will gradually bring you peace, more health, and happiness. As we continue into the year 2023, with new knowledge, we can continue down healthier paths. We can create healthier futures for not only ourselves but also for our loved ones.
Happy Women’s Health Month!