iven the state of the world, health has never meant more in our lifetime than it does now as Covid-19 is still apparent in our everyday lives. Forcing us to change the way we interact with our families, friends, and the toll that sudden adaptation has taken on our mental health - - there are so many women silently getting by only imagining the light at the end of the tunnel, as the road to normalcy still remains a guess.
In the spirit of Mother’s Day and National Women’s Health Week, we want to talk about women’s overall health and wellbeing. Let’s remind them that they’re not alone and that their silent moves aren’t going unnoticed.
Globally, due to rigid gender norms, the pandemic has seen women working harder doing more unpaid work than their counterparts. Still taking on all of the cooking, cleaning, childcare, pet care, grocery shopping and laundry to name a few - - the stress of paid work against longer hours of unpaid work has taken its toll on women’s physical and mental health. Unfortunately this has caused a domino effect with girls being pulled out of school to help care for the household, which hinders them financially in the long run with finding paid opportunities and the benefits that come with it. This interactive exercise from UN Women, which aims for Generation Equality does a wonderful job of putting unpaid care work into perspective for both women and men all over the world. Although they have many great suggestions on how to support women with unpaid work, the main idea is to stop calling it “Women’s Work” and even the load amongst the household.
Because we know that health starts at home with preventive care, we want to empower you to be your best advocates. We’re not just talking about habit changes, diet and exercise, but rather Self Exams. Did you know you should do a self breast exam monthly? There are several ways to do a self breast examination and many women who have breast cancer, often detected the changes in their breast prior to medical intervention from an expert. The other self examination that can be done is a thyroid self neck check. Here you’ll look for bulges or protrusions in your neck which can indicate swelling and other abnormalities. The thing to keep in mind though is, just because you find bumps or a growth in your breast or thyroid, doesn’t automatically mean it's harmful. It just means you should take the next step in getting a full workup from a medical expert.
You know yourself better than anyone else, and in most cases no one is going to take better care of you than you. Make time to hit up all of your wellness appointments on a regular basis, as medicine works best when conditions are caught or managed early. This means having regular physicals as recommended by your doctor. Also, make sure there is trust between you and your doctor as that can make or break the experience of healthcare for you. Get your teeth checked and cleaned every 6 months to prevent gum disease and gingivitis, which can lead to bigger problems like heart issues if left unchecked. Get your vision checked annually, as it gives your optometrist a chance to look behind your eyes for any tumors or signs of degenerative diseases like glaucoma or issues related to diabetes.
The self is a network of connective tissue and neurons, so you must take care of all parts to get a real assessment of your overall health. One more thing to keep in mind, is the effect mental health has on your overall health. As mentioned before the extra stresses due to the pandemic can make it feel impossible for many women to prioritize themselves. However, you can’t fill an empty cup if you have nothing to give. Seek help for your mental health to help you cope with feelings of stress and isolation as this may make all the difference in other aspects of your health and life.
When you check in with your health experts, be open about what’s going on with you and write down your questions or concerns so you don’t forget. Your life depends on you being transparent, and although you may not be comfortable with some discussions, you would be more uncomfortable with not knowing what’s going on. As far as research is concerned, use Dr. Google, WebMD and YouTube sparingly. Don’t jump to diagnosis, rather make your research part of your discussion with your healthcare professional.
Creating routine around the things that bring you peace and joy can help you cope with stress. Whether that be reading everyday to wind down, exercising, writing, cooking for fun, listening to soothing music like FKJ & Masego, meditating or peacefully slipping into slumber with Hatch Sleep there are many ways to keep your joy, even when you’ve had a stressful day. Spending time with loved ones and pets, and we mean actually spending time with them (not working for them) with crafts, activities or games will also bring you joy and help ease the list of obligations you feel you have towards them.
Lastly, we want to touch on a matter that we feel doesn’t get talked about enough in the realm of health and that’s financial security. A lot of stress can be linked to lack of resources, specifically money and poor credit so make it a point to understand how your finances work for you and in the grand scheme of the economy. This episode of Stocks and Bonds Explained from Netflix, does a great job of explaining how your investments may work. While a quick credit history with a trusted credit repair business, may be more telling of what’s happening with your lines of credit.
Budgetninsta, Tiffany Aliche makes financial learning easily digestible to the most novice spender with her mission to make financial education accessible to women worldwide. While you have newcomers like Ashley Clark, CEO and Founder of Sense2Cents, teaching families how to manage their money with fun board games and learning tools. The important thing is to know there are resources and experts available to help you understand finances and how to balance them so you can reach your financial goals to travel, buy a car, house and furniture.
Ultimately, the overall health of our women is dependent on everyone caring enough for her to support her. Although she may be her own biggest advocate in many cases, make sure to remind her she doesn’t have to do everything and she doesn’t have to do it alone. And Women, don’t be too proud to ask for help or refuse it because you think you have it. Be open to the things that present themselves as aid and guides to help make life easier. Don’t wait for things to go awry before you decide to protect yourself, because as much of a hero as you are an empty cup cannot fill others.
Happy Mother’s Day!