Taking control of your health starts with a decision: the decision to discover your own needs and put a plan of action into place. National Women’s Health Week, taking place from May 8 through 14, is an initiative led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Women’s Health Week seeks to empower women to make health a priority, something we feel very strongly about.
Making a decision to improve or focus on your health leads to a longer, happier life. You can find motivation from past health problems you may have faced and use what you’ve learned to take preventive and corrective steps.
Empowerment comes from living a life of purpose. When you take control of your health, you empower yourself to live your best life and be your best self. You let your inner light shine for all to see. Empowerment looks like different things for different people, but it feels like confidence and trust in yourself.
Being empowered doesn’t have to mean attaining lofty goals. Small, measurable successes deserve to be celebrated. Improving your health starts with little, daily changes that will add up over time. Don’t set big goals for yourself that will end up seeming too daunting. Below are some ways you can fuel your body and soul to feel empowered:
- Make a list. Having a set list of goals to look at every day will be a helpful visual reminder of what actions you must take to achieve success in your health.
- Keep it simple. Goals should be attainable and progress as you move forward.
- Nourish your body with a healthy diet of whole foods.
- Make time to get active.
- Ensure you get plenty of rest.
- Avoid or try to quit unhealthy habits, such as smoking.
- Find time for your relationships. Studies have shown again and again that maintain friendships and family relationships is crucial to mental health.
Do Your Body Good: Looking into the Future
While many healthy actions are simple, there are things that require more time and planning. Schedule regular check-ups with your primary care doctor and report any health complaints to them immediately. Preventive screenings for cancers are imperative if you have a history of cancer in your family. Looking into the future enables you to take action now, knowing that it benefits you in the long run.
Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. Many of the actions you take to improve your body will also benefit your mind. For example, cardiovascular exercise will not only improve your heart’s health, but will also relieve tension from the day.
The Body and Mind Connection
Stress can be a killer - literally. Remember to always take time to practice self-care and to find activities that help you relax. Many women find relaxation and peace through yoga and meditation. It may seem challenging to find time in your day to practice yoga or to meditate, but you can start with just five minutes each day.
Devoting time to practice self-care can be one of the most rewarding actions you can take for your health. Practicing yoga gives you an opportunity to stay physically active and improve flexibility while connecting with your mind and spirit. Yoga and meditation - defined as a transformation of the mind - can lead to introspection and relieve anxiety.
Learning to Love Yourself
Good mental and emotional health culminates in loving yourself. All of us experience negative thoughts and doubts, but how we choose to respond to these makes all the difference. Our negative self-talk is not based in reality, but instead based on past experiences and challenges. You may have been laid off from a job during a difficult economic time, but instead of accepting that the circumstances were outside of your control, you began to believe that the lay-off was personal and a reflection of your competence as an employee.
Relaxation activities can help you learn to observe these negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Repeating positive affirmations to yourself each morning - even if you don’t believe what you’re telling yourself at first - is an effective tool in developing self-esteem.
Give kindness to get kindness, and give time to receive time. Research shows that volunteering and giving back to your community can improve your mood and sense of satisfaction. Find a cause you believe in and something that makes you feel good. It can be serving lunch at a homeless shelter, volunteering for an animal rescue, or working to keep the environment clean. Make sure it’s important to you and you will stay passionate about it.
National Women’s Health Week - A Holistic Approach
At its core, National Women’s Health Week is about empowering you to feel good about yourself and the life you live. We may devote large amounts of time to our spouse, children, career or schooling while neglecting our own needs. Learning to put yourself first can be hard if you’re adjusted to caring for others, but self-care is healthy and necessary.
Living an empowered life means taking a holistic approach to your health. National Women’s Health Week stresses that it’s never too early or too late to take control of your life. Make your health a priority and celebrate National Women’s Health Week by:
Taking the National Women’s Health Week pledge
- Promoting or sharing your commitment to your health through social media
- Connecting with like-minded women who share your values
Positive, Healthy Aging
Empowerment in your health doesn’t stop when you get older. Your dedication to a life well-lived should become more visible as you age. According to the National Women’s Health Week website, you should begin talking with your doctor about an age-appropriate exercise program. As you enter your 60’s, it’s imperative to try to quit habits like smoking, which can significantly shorten your life.
Develop a roadmap for the rest of your life. Decide what you want to accomplish and identify any areas of your health that you desire to change. Be positive and patient with yourself as you grow and respond to the challenges that come with aging.
It’s about the Journey, not the Destination
The journey of achieving your health goals is filled with challenges, mistakes, learning and triumphs. You’ll learn new things about yourself and those around you. You are only given one body, one mind and one life, so make your health a priority and watch as your life transforms.
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