May is National Women’s Health Month, and as we are slowly returning to our new “normal,” it’s an excellent time for everyone to schedule routine exams that may have been missed during COVID. As wives, partners, and mothers, women sometimes put the health concerns of their loved ones ahead of their own, which is counter-intuitive because if they are not experiencing their best physical, mental, and emotional health, their families will surely suffer as well.
While both women and men are susceptible to certain health issues, some affect women differently and more frequently. For example:
- Heart disease – in the US, heart disease causes one in every four deaths among women. Contributing factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
- Breast cancer – about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
- Gynecological cancers – the highest rate of cervical cancer is among Hispanic women; the highest rate of uterine, ovarian, and vulvar cancer is among white women; and the highest rate of vaginal cancer is among black women.
- Pregnancy issues – pre-existing conditions can worsen during pregnancy and threaten the health of both mother and child; asthma, diabetes, depression, and anemia are all things to keep an eye on.
- Autoimmune diseases – including Type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and more.
- Depression and anxiety – these conditions can be caused by a number of factors including normal fluctuations in hormones, giving birth, and shifting into menopause.
While genetics and lifestyle each play a role in a woman’s health, there are many ways a woman can make improvements in the way she feels. Taking time for self-care is especially important; self-care might come in the form of:
- Enjoying a hobby
- Taking some time alone to read, relax, take a bath, etc.,
- Walking in nature
- Spending time with friends
- Booking a spa treatment
- Scheduling time with a partner (away from children)
- Discussing challenges with a confidant or therapist
At Insights, we recommend that even if you have come to the end of your work with a therapist, you schedule a yearly visit with them—just like you would your annual physical exam. Not only does this keep things current for both client and therapist, if challenges do come up that need addressing, they don’t have to spend so much time catching up on life events (or end up starting over with a new therapist, unless desired).
If you’re a woman who has spent the last year taking care of others while neglecting yourself, May in an excellent time to put yourself back at the top of your list. Make those appointments today!