It’s National Women’s Health Week – Take Control of Your Health!
May 8, 2016, Mother’s Day, kicked off National Women’s Health Week.
At Zufall Health, we want to help you take control of your health. Here are some easy steps women can take to lead a healthier life:
1. Schedule regular checkups and preventive screenings. Ask your health care provider:
- When do I need Pap and HPV tests?
- What preventive cancer screenings do I need?
- Are my cholesterol and blood pressure in normal range?
- Am I on the right birth control?
- Can I get tested for HIV and other STDs? (This is especially important if you’re planning on becoming pregnant)
2. Get active!
Exercising for 30 minutes most days is shown to reduce risk for heart disease and chronic health conditions, improve mental health and mood, and more. Working full time can take away time from regular exercise. Here are 4 easy ways to stay active at work:
a. During your lunch break, take a ten-minute walk, either outside or up and down the stairs. A short walk has been shown to control blood sugar which helps avoid a mid-afternoon crash. More: Taking a Walk After a Meal Aids Digestion
b. Talk to your co-workers in person. Rather than sending emails, get up and go talk to them.
c. Take a standing break. Sitting for long periods of time can be damaging to your health. Get up and stretch or walk at least once an hour. More: Get Ten Minutes of Intermittent Movement for Every Hour of Sitting
d. Have a walking meeting. Take advantage of spring and walk with a co-worker. Need to write something down? Bring a clipboard.
3. Eat healthy.
The quality of food we eat affects hormones and energy. Cravings can make eating healthy a challenge, especially for women at different points in their monthly cycle. Here are 3 strategies for managing sugar cravings:
a. Avoid foods high in sugar. Processed foods with refined sugar will cause a larger spike in blood sugar, and the higher it rises, the lower it falls. A drop in blood sugar is the cause of mid-afternoon cravings. Focus on foods high in fiber, like vegetables, and watch out for hidden sources of sugars, like bottled drinks and salad dressings.
b. Manage your craving. Get up, drink a glass of water, go for a quick walk, and stretch. Most cravings only last 15 minutes.
c. Keep healthy snacks handy. Aim for snacks with protein and fiber, like 2 ounces of almonds or walnuts, vegetables with hummus, or 85% dark chocolate.
4. Get good quality sleep.
Sleep is the time our body uses to repair itself and process what we’ve learned during the day. Three strategies to improve your sleep:
a. Black out your room. You shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face.
b. Avoid the screen an hour before bedtime. The artificial “blue” light of computers or television triggers your body to release daytime hormones, like the stress hormone cortisol. If you must use the computer, use a program like f.lux to adapt the color of your screen to the time of day, giving you warmer colors at night. https://justgetflux.com/
c. Get to bed at the right time. We get the best quality sleep between 10pm and 2am. You’ll feel more refreshed and focused when you wake up.
d. More: 21 Tips To Get The Best Sleep Ever
5. Manage your stress.
Chronic stress leaves our hormones in a constant state of “fight or flight,” which prevents our body’s systems from acting normally. More: Chronic Stress Puts Your Health At Risk.
Here are 5 quick strategies to help you control your stress:
a. Drink a glass of water. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Chronic dehydration is a big source of physical stress. More: Sipping Stress Away.
b. Step back and take a 10-minute break. The time you take to stretch, walk or call a friend might seem like ten minutes you don’t have in the short run, but in the long run it will help improve your focus.
c. Breathe deeply, using your abdomen. With one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, take a deep breath through your nose. Feel your lungs stretch from your belly expanding. Breathe in for five seconds, hold for two seconds, let your breath out for five seconds, and hold your exhale for five seconds. Repeat.
d. Connect with others. Sharing your stress with friends or family can help and they may give you another outlook that you hadn’t thought of.
e. Break your problem into small, doable steps. Reducing its scope makes it easier to get started and to complete a task.