By Stacey Rosen
Are you prioritizing your health or taking care of everyone and everything else first? When you consider that 80 percent of healthcare decisions are made by women, it’s clear that women are the primary caregivers, nurturers and health advocates for many families. If this sounds familiar, you may be finding it difficult to find time for self-care.
Health is not a singular goal. Rather, it’s a lifetime journey that starts with a commitment to making your health a priority. Each day, you have the opportunity to work toward being a healthier you. And, you’re never too young or too old to begin making smarter choices to optimize your health. Make this the week that you start to take greater control of your health.
Here are a few tips to help:
Start with one change
When it comes to making healthy changes, it can be overwhelming to try to make too many all at once. A smart approach is to begin with one specific change. It can be as simple as walking an extra 30 minutes twice a week, scheduling a checkup or making a commitment to shop weekly at the farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal produce. As each change becomes habit, add one more. Remember, when it comes to health, slow and steady is the right approach.
Be your own healthcare advocate
Maintaining a health journal is a great way to keep track of your own health. Along with keeping health records, note questions you have and symptoms you may be experiencing. Bring this background information to appointments with your healthcare provider.
Schedule physical activity
It’s easy to put exercise on the back-burner when you’re overloaded with daily responsibilities. Yet, it’s essential to maintaining long-term health. By establishing a set time specifically for physical activity, you’re more likely to do it than if you are always trying to fit it in around other activities. Any activity is better than none!
Pay attention to mental health
There is a strong connection between the mind and body. Just as physical health problems can lead to mental distress, mental health disorders can impair physical health. Focusing on mental health includes getting sufficient sleep, managing stress and asking for help when you need it.
It’s incredibly common for women to put their own health needs at the bottom of their daily to-do list, but the key to long-term health is putting your well-being first. In other words, the last thing on your list shouldn’t be you.
Learn more about the Katz Institute for Women’s Health by visiting www.northwell.edu/KIWH or calling the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.
Dr. Stacey E. Rosen is the vice president of Women’s Health at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health