It’s such a blessing to see another beautiful day & new month. The month of October is such a special month because it’s the beginning of a new and the last quarter of the year and if you look back and reflect, you’ll realize that no matter what challenges you may have faced, you are still blessed in so many ways.
To continue on our focus on Women’s Health, Rights & Issues every Wednesday, I want to highlight important health concerns for this month. Did you know that apart from Breast Cancer Awareness, the month of October is also Health Literacy, Emotional Wellness, Domestic Violence, National Depression Education & Awareness Month?
These are all issues that are dear to me and probably hits so close to home for most women because you or your loved one has probably gone through one or more of these. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Depression accounts for about 42% of the disability from neuropsychiatric disorders in women. Also, women suffer more when it comes to the disability associated with mental illness because they experience 3 or more comorbid disorders based on gender roles at home, having multiple roles for different people and settings, discrimination, stressors, negative life experiences and events that has affected them e.g. domestic violence, pay inequality, lower socioeconomic status etc. You can read more STATs on my last blog posts.
Do you realize that Women’s Health is an important Human Rights Issue? Your Health is a great asset, your health is priceless. The amount of support, quality and access to care for Women is directly related to your quality of health and life and we need to start doing a better job at taking care of ourselves, advocating for ourselves for a better mental, physical and spiritual life. As a Nurse Practitioner I’m all about preventive healthcare but as a Women I’m a big advocate for Selfcare. I have seen so many women get so sick or even die as a result of overworking, over stressing, being overwhelmed and taking care of everyone else but themselves. Somehow the idea of being a good wife, great mom or strong woman has been equated to losing yourself and burning out and that is sad. I know there are certain things beyond our control but there’s s a lot we can do. We need to reclaim our power, change our beliefs and way of life to maintain a happy and healthy balanced between self, family, work, play and below are “10 Ways to Improve your Mental, Physical & Spiritual Health”.
10 Ways to Improve your Mental, Physical & Spiritual Health
- Find a Balance – Women wear many hats and perform multiple roles as a daughter, sister, friend, worker, business woman, wife, mother and most times caregiver to all. While it is amazing to give yourself and being all things to everybody, this is usually overwhelming because it leaves very little time for selfcare where they can focus on their needs, relax and recharge. If women rarely have time to nurture themselves, it’s only a matter of time until they have a mental or physical breakdown. Sometimes they have been stretched so thin that it may take one more stressful experience for them to snap, get to a point they can’t bounce back because they are unable to cope. We need balance, rest and selfcare so we can function at optimal capacity and be our best self when needed.
- Learn to say No – This is often hard for so many women due to the roles and responsibilities that society has placed on them and it’s even worse for the women who are people pleasers and perfectionists who want to meet everyone’s needs, make everyone happy, want everything to be perfect but it’s unrealistic. Practice saying NO to somethings and some people. Organize your life, cut down on your roles and tasks, maintain a balance by prioritizing what’s important and your health should always be first because if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll not be able to withstand challenges, hence you’re not able to function at your highest level and purpose.
- Be Disciplined – Next you have to be disciplined with what you do with your time, energy and resources. Always be proactive and intentional about our life, our priorities and our health. We need to be deliberate with what we do, from how we take care of our body, to what we ingest and put into it, how we unwind and how we rejuvenate and heal ourselves to be our best. Learn to schedule our breaks, lunch, exercise, selfcare time and do things you enjoy that relaxes you and make sure you follow through with your plans.
- Reclaim your Power – Fight for yourself, fight for Women’s Rights, for justice and equality for all groups of people so family roles, rules, societal norms, socioeconomic policies can change which gives you more autonomy and confidence in your life. It also empowers you because you feel more in control and that you can easily change negative situations and experiences, get the right support as a working mother, caregiver to aging parents, get equal opportunities, equal pay, equal access and resources to avoid poverty, overwork, discrimination and issues like domestic violence.
- Find your Faith – A lot of us say we have faith but most times live in a state of fear and worry and what you focus on you magnify and manifest. You need to go back to find your faith in a higher power/God that is good, great, love and understand not just who God is, but who he is to you and who you are to him/her. When you know and truly believe that you are Gods child, special, blessed, talented, beautiful and created for a unique purpose, you are more confident because your self-worth is dependent on who God says you are not what other humans have said or done. Knowing the truth about who you are and knowing that Gods validation is the only one you need is amazing on your self-esteem. Your faith makes you more persistent and resilient in adversity while preserving the best part of yourself that God created you to be. When God says you are the light, it doesn’t matter how many people say you’re dark or how many people or situations try to dim your light, you will always shine as long as you truly believe that you’re that bright light.
- Have a Support System – We live in a world where some people think needing rest, asking for help or supports a sign of weakness, but it’s not. It’s impossible to do and be everything for everyone including yourself. Learn to ask for help just the way you give help to others. Despite your past hurts or disappointments, you have to find a few people who you trust and feel safe with so you can share not only the great parts of your life, but also the challenges and stress you may be going through. We as humans were not created to be an island but to connect and form relationships with each other which is so beneficial because you have people to lean on when things get hard for you. That could be family, friends, colleagues, healthcare providers or even random strangers that God may send your way to support you and give you solutions and resources so you can cope and get though the hard times. This helps you better manage your stress, you’ll probably improve on your coping skills and if you need more help, find and openly communicate, find a counselor, therapist or other healthcare providers who is professionally equipped to help you and give you the right resources.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet – This is so important for your body, brain and mental state because a lack of nutrients can affect you and hold you back. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, moderate protein, fruits, drink lots of water, a cup of coffee or glass of red wine a day, tea with antioxidants and foods high in good fats/oils but low in carbohydrates and bad fats/oils so your blood sugar level is more controlled, you get the right amount of vitamins, nutrients and energy to function mentally and physically at your maximum capacity.
- Exercise your Mind, Body & Spirit – You need to maintain an active lifestyle by exercising routinely. This strengthens your body, improves your metabolism, organ functions, energy level, mood, mental clarity and focus. Beyond physical activities, find ways to transform your emotions and attitude, exercise and strengthen your mental and spiritual state by praying, meditating, saying daily affirmations, doing visualization activities, journaling, reading, listening and watching inspirational things that feeds your mind and soul and strengthens you.
- Maintain Safe Sex & Screening – Remember you are in control of your body and it’s your right to have access to the best care but also to protect your body, so practice safe sex. Use a condom during sexual activity unless you are actively trying to get pregnant and are in a long committed relationship. Also, you and your partner should at least do annual bloodwork and screenings for any STDs whether you’re single, married or divorced because there are so many ways you can get infected and early screening/detection makes a big difference in your treatment and recovery. Also, as Women make sure you routinely do you Pap Smears and Breast Exams as recommended for health maintenance. I usually recommend my patients to do them around their birthdays as a treat to themselves and try to schedule everything in 1 week and get it over with.
- Avoid exposure to Toxins – There are so many products out there especially for women, from makeup, hair, skin, feminine products etc. It’s your responsibility to be more aware on what you’re using to avoid exposure to different toxins and poisoning. Also, my health tips will not be complete without me advising you to stop or avoid second hand smoking due to its side effects like COPD and different types of cancer.
I hope these tips have been helpful. Remember that although you may have things out of your control such as accidents and biological predispositions, your health is greatly dependent on what you put into your body, mind and spirit and how you care for yourself. The best and strongest thing you can do as a woman is to truly love and care for yourself so you can function at your maximum capacity to be your best for yourself first of all and then for others.
Evaluate your life and ask yourself, when was your last health and wellness evaluation? What do you do daily/routinely to maintain a healthy mental, physical, spiritual & reproductive system? How do you advocate for women’s issues, women’s rights and women’s health? Leave any comments, questions or feedback below and I appreciate you reading this and supporting me, my platform and my purpose of empowering women to find their purpose, share their story and use it to make a positive impact in their community and grow their income, while living a happy and healthy life. Have a wonderful day!