National Women’s Health Week (NWHW) is a weeklong health observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH) .
The week May 10-16, 2020 serves as a reminder for women and girls, especially during the outbreak of COVID-19, to make their health a priority and take care of themselves . It is extremely important for all women and girls, especially those with underlying health conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, and women 65 years and older, to take care of your health now .
What steps can I take for better health?
The Office on Women’s Health encourages women and girls to :
- Take care of your body and mind:
- Talk to your healthcare provider:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Log and track your weight to be aware of how your food choices and physical activity are affecting your weight.
- Get and stay active regularly in your home or outside your home.
- During the shelter in place take advantage of technology and use the internet to find workout videos. There’s a whole world out there from Zumba to Pilates.
- Eat heart-healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks.
- Plan your meals ahead of time and make it a family event to prepare meals.
- Take care of your mental health
- Stay connected with family and friends via technology or even writing letters.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress.
- Try journaling or meditating to better understand your feelings.
- Practice good sleep habits to improve your mental and physical health, and boost your immune system:
- Follow a routine for going to sleep – be consistent going to bed and getting up – even on weekends. And try to enforce your children to have the same routine.
- Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
- Monitor alcohol intake and avoid illicit drugs, including drugs that are not prescribed to you.
- Drink alcohol in moderation and save it for special meals or occasions.
- Look out for your lungs
Good mental health is essential to overall well-being. ‘
Mental disorders can affect women and men differently* . Some disorders are more common in women such as depression and anxiety. More than 1 in 5 women in the United States experienced a mental health condition in 2019, such as depression or anxiety . Many mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder, affect more women than men or affect women in different ways from men . Most serious mental health conditions cannot be cured. But they can be treated, so you can get better and live well.
There are also certain types of disorders that are unique to women . For example, some women may experience symptoms of mental disorders at times of hormone change, such as perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related depression . Perimenopause, the transition to menopause, often begins in the late 40s. Perimenopause can cause sudden hormonal ups and downs which can also affect a women’s physical and mental health .
When it comes to other mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, research has not found differences in the rates at which men and women experience these illnesses . But women may experience these illnesses differently – certain symptoms may be more common in women than in men, and the course of the illness can be affected by the sex of the individual . Researchers are only now beginning to tease apart the various biological and psychosocial factors that may impact the mental health of both women and men .
Mental health resources from the federal government and other websites:
- National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH, HHS
- National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, HHS
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, HHS
Some tips to participate in National Women’s Health Week:
· Educate and empower all community members to advocate for women’s health.
· Encourage those around you to participate in health screenings and create health habits.
· Share your personal journey with family, friends and loved ones to help them take the next step on their personal health journeys.
· Help break the taboo surrounded around sensitive health topics especially reproductive and sexual health.
*Men’s Health Month is in June and will be covered in a separate article.
~ Jasneelam Kaur, MPH