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5 Wellness Tips for All Women

Women tend to show a genuine sense of compassion and concern for those around them. But, sometimes this comes at the expense of their own needs and health, as women may forget to take care of themselves. That's why it's important to put you first when it comes to your personal health and wellness. Leading a healthy lifestyle, being aware of your risk factors, and early detection and treatment of potential health concerns can help promote everybody's overall well-being, including your own.

Below are five strategies for taking care of a very special person in your life—you.

1. Make health a priority

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of various diseases and health conditions. Here are a few everyday tips for living well:

  • Stay active most days a week—aim for at least 30 minutes of activity per day, five days a week.
  • Strive to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Check your body mass index (BMI) to see where you stand.
  • Relax with those you like to be around most—friends, loved ones, members of your spiritual community.
  • Seek support when times get tough. Just call your agency's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP is there to provide short-term counseling to help you and your family members deal with life's many of challenges.
  • Get outdoors—studies show that just being there can relieve distress and enhance life satisfaction.
  • De-stress by practicing progressive relaxation, meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and avoid tobacco as well as recreational drugs.

2. Know your risks

Along with leading a healthy lifestyle, as above, it's important to learn your family's medical history. If you had close family members who either had or currently have conditions—including high blood pressure, breast cancer, diabetes, or heart problems, etc.—share this information with your physician. If so, more frequent screenings may be recommended.

Talking with your doctor about your risk factors is the first step toward protecting yourself.

3. Check yourself

Visit your primary care provider for regular checkups and screenings—such as mammograms and pap tests. Going in for preventative care can often help lower your risk of various physical and emotional health conditions. These tests can help you identify potential diseases early, while they're easier to treat.

Depending on your age, family history, and lifestyle, you might want to visit your health care provider and get screened for:

  • Blood pressure
  • Bone mineral density (osteoporosis)
  • Breast, cervical (pap smear), colon, and skin cancer
  • Chlamydia
  • Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Gonorrhea
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • HIV
  • Pelvic exam
  • Syphilis

There are some screenings you can do yourself, too. Women can monitor their breast health, for example, by doing monthly self-exams. Talk to your primary care provider if you observe changes in your breasts—including breast pain, lumps, or nipple discharge. The best way to find breast cancer, however, is through a mammogram. If you choose to perform self-exams and clinical breast exams, be sure you go in for mammograms, too.

4. Plan for a healthy pregnancy

Pregnancy is truly an exciting time. Yet, it can also be stressful. Staying well before, during, and after your pregnancy can help you maintain peace of mind, benefitting both you and your baby. Follow these tips for keeping healthy throughout the childbirth journey.

Pre-pregnancy:

If you are planning to have a child, there are many things to consider. Simply put, the healthier you are as you plan your pregnancy, the more likely you are to have a healthy baby.

  • Prioritize your health. Taking control and choosing healthy habits is important for your holistic well-being—regardless of your plan to become a parent. Use the strategies above for making your health a priority.
  • Consult with your doctor. He or she can help you establish a health status baseline and determine if you have any risk factors that should be addressed before you become pregnant.
  • Make sure you are getting enough iron and folate/folic acid in your diet. Many women are iron deficient and developing infants require an iron reserve. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends iron supplementation either through diet or vitamins for better pregnancy outcomes.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco use, drug use, and other toxic substances. The first eight weeks of your pregnancy are a particularly vulnerable time for your fetus as its vital organs are developing. Because you may not know you are pregnant for a few weeks—or sometimes months—after conception, it is best to abstain from these substances and avoid the risk of birth defects. If you feel you have a problem with substance use, your EAP is available 24/7 for support. You can also access Federal Occupational Health's (FOH's) free tobacco cessation programs to help you quit smoking.

You might find some of CDC's pre-pregnancy resources helpful, too.

Gestation

Pregnancy is a transformative time for parents-to-be. The ideal result is a full-term pregnancy without unnecessary interventions and the delivery of a healthy baby. Continuous maternal care is the best way to achieve that result. Among other things, you'll want to:

  • Keep up your healthy lifestyle and pre-pregnancy patterns
  • Get your recommended vaccinations,including your flu shot
  • Check with your health care provider on the medications you're taking
  • Meet regularly with your health care provider as scheduled
  • Stay well during pregnancy

Postpartum

Taking home a new baby is one of the best moments in a woman's life. But, planning for the physical and emotional challenges that come with motherhood cannot be ignored.

  • Breastfeeding. Once the baby is born, consider the many benefits of breastfeeding. You might even want to take a class on breastfeeding while you are pregnant to help you learn to nurse your baby.
  • Rest. Get as much rest as you can. Caring for your new child will take up much of your time. It's perfectly fine if eating, sleeping, and caring for your baby are all you have time for immediately following your delivery.
  • Your changing body. Noticeable physical differences from childbirth may include swelling in your legs and feet, menstrual-like cramping and spotting or bleeding—similar to a period—off and on for up to six weeks, constipation, and discomfort in your breasts—causing them to feel full, tender, or leak milk—even if you are not breastfeeding.
  • Physical activity. Consult with your primary care provider about your activity level—even for routine things like climbing stairs or walking—the first few weeks after giving birth. Doctors often recommend abstaining from sexual intercourse for four to six weeks after birth.
  • Baby blues. Feelings of sadness or anxiety can be an emotional consequence for new mothers, too. If these feelings keep you from properly caring for yourself or your baby, you might have a serious condition called postpartum depression.
  • There are many other things to think about following childbirth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers great resources on your baby's health, safety, and development.

Women often begin to put their children's needs before their own, but it is also important to continue to care for yourself.

5. Keep your cool

Occasionally, life gets hectic and your responsibilities may overwhelm you. Taking care of your body is just part of the equation; you have to take care of your emotional well-being, too. Be sure to take care of yourself and remember the things that matter to you in life—your family, your kids, your job, enjoying the outdoors, volunteering, or whatever is most important to you. Being emotionally healthy helps you get the most out of life and better cope with adversity you face. So, remember to always take time for yourself—because your own wellness matters more than you may realize.

Support Yourself and the Women in Your Life

Help your female friends and loved ones stay on top of all aspects of their health.

 

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