Each year, National Women’s Health Week helps millions of women take steps to improve their health and well-being. It’s a great time to look at areas within your own health that need improving and set goals for the coming weeks and months.
Here are 10 simple changes that you can make in order to improve your health.
- Reorganize the fridge and pantry: And not just to get out the old and expired food products. Rather, go through your fridge and get rid of all the unhealthy stuff that doesn’t help or nourish your body. If you aren’t ready to completely get rid of it, or your family will be upset by a complete purge, try rearranging things so the unhealthy stuff is in the back or the bottom of the fridge (out of sight, out of mind, right?). Load up the front and eye-level shelves with healthy snacks like fresh fruits, vegetables and humus. You can even do the same with your pantry: tuck the cookies and sodas out of the way and place the healthier snacks front and center.
- Walk instead of drive: We’re so accustomed to hopping in the car anytime we need to run an errand or go somewhere. Try walking instead! Even if the post office or grocery store is a mile away, it’s an easy way to fit a 2-mile walk into your day. Load up your phone with a music playing app or favorite podcast and plug in your headphones to make the walk more fun!
- Bring snacks to work: Let’s face it: the vending machine or work snack pantry is never stocked with healthy snacks, and when that midday slump hits, it can be hard to resist the junk food. Instead of giving in to temptation, try bringing in your own, healthy snacks. This can help you satisfy your hunger with healthy and nutritious options, instead of processed snack foods.
- Go see your doctor: You know the old story about how men never go to the doctor? Well, many women put off seeing their physician, too. When was the last time you had a skin check or even a routine check-up? Go ahead and schedule all of your necessary appointments; start with your primary care physician for a check-up and he or she will let you know what additional testing you may need. You should also consider seeing your gynecologist for a well-woman check and dermatologist for a skin check.
- Drink water before your morning coffee: After sleeping all night, your body is likely a little dehydrated. Try starting your day with a big glass of water to help you rehydrate. You can even have your coffee afterwards, if you want.
- Get more sleep: Lack of good quality sleep is a major problem for many women, and it’s not just a matter of feeling sleepy or unwell either. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, multiple studies have found that poor sleep is associated with an increase in chronic health problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Lack of sleep can also change your hormones, making it more difficult to lose weight or maintain that healthy diet you’ve been trying to follow. Make it a priority to get at least 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep each night.
- Wash hands frequently: Sounds simple right? But proper handwashing is the best way to eliminate germs and reduce your risk for contracting an infection, like the cold or flu. Avoid touching your face frequently as well. That brings the germs and bacteria on your hands into close contact with your mouth, nose and eyes, which are the perfect places for those germs to enter your body and cause an infection.
- Swap out the office chair: It’s no secret that sitting down all day is not good for you! Instead of a traditional office chair, check with your boss to see if they’d allow you to use a standing desk or even an exercise ball instead. While they may not help you lose weight, these options do help to reduce the risk associated with long-term sitting. Make sure to ease into it though; don’t go from sitting all day to only standing. Try to transition slowly by adding a little bit of standing time each day until you can stand most of the day. If your boss isn’t supportive of the change, try to get up and walk whenever possible, at least once or twice each hour.
- Stretch daily: Stretching isn’t just for athletes or before and after working out. Taking a few minutes each day to stretch can help to reduce stress, decrease your risk of injury and improve the range of motion in your joints. Plus, it just feels great to loosen up tight muscles and stretch, especially after a tough day.
- Manage stress: Life is stressful! Between long work hours and family and social obligations, stress is inevitable. However, it is how you deal with stress that makes all the difference. Finding ways to help manage that stress is essential. Meditating, journaling, and exercising are all great ways to cope when it gets overwhelming.
It can be tempting to let yourself go or avoid doing the things you need to do to stay healthy.
But it is so important!
When you are healthy and able to manage the stressors in your life, you’ll be happier and better equipped to care for the people around you. So this year during National Women’s Health Week, think about what you can do to better take care of you.