We know that life gets busy and oftentimes, it’s difficult to prioritize your needs. However, taking care of your body today and every day is an important step towards improving your overall mental and physical health throughout life. As a woman, it’s overwhelming trying to balance work, TTC, family and friends, childcare, and self-care. To make matters even more stressful, you’re likely scrambling to keep track of various appointments – your annual physical, the dentist, your pap smear, the eye doctor, a mammogram, and the list goes on and on. Sure, it would be much easier if all of these appointments were located in a central hub that we could visit once a year (as discussed by 28ish Days Later podcast host India Rakusen and Dame Professor Lesley Regan in the Day Twenty-Eight: New Power episode), but sadly, that’s not a reality for many.
Even though we know it can feel overwhelming, keeping up with regular appointments and screenings is vital to your overall health, as they can help to spot potential problems or issues earlier rather than later. In addition, taking care of your emotional and mental health is just as important! Below, we’re breaking down some steps to help you prioritize your physical and mental health.
Stay on Top of Your Appointments
Yes, we know appointments and check-ups can be inconvenient, time-consuming, and sometimes stressful. However, they’re an essential part of your overall care and are very important for your health. Below, we’re sharing some tips to help you stay on top of your appointments:
- Schedule Appointments in Advance – Appointments can be difficult to fit into your hectic and busy schedule. Try scheduling them several months in advance, so that they fit into your calendar much more easily. Then, you can build your schedule around those appointments.
- Set Reminders – Set reminder alerts on your cell phone and work calendar for a day or two before your appointment. This way, you’ll be less likely to cancel because you didn’t remember until the day of the appointment.
- Reward Yourself – Sometimes, the easiest way to get yourself to do something is to reward yourself with a treat afterward! Tell yourself, “If I go for my mammogram, I’ll treat myself to lunch after.” This will make the trip feel less like an errand and more like a break from the daily grind.
Be Kind to Your Mind
Did you know that more than 1 in 5 women in the United States experienced a mental health condition, such as anxiety and depression, in the past year? Women are also twice as likely to experience severe stress and anxiety than men, according to a 2016 study. If you’re TTC, stress can negatively affect your fertility, so it's important to find ways to relax and manage your stress levels. If you’re unsure where to begin, try the following:
- Meditate – Meditation can help you to reframe stressful situations, develop skills to manage stress, focus on the present, reduce a negative mindset, and improve patience. To begin, try blocking off 5-10 minutes each day to practice meditation. Before you know it, it’ll be just another part of your day. If you’re not sure where to start, try a week or two of Headspace for free.
- Practice Self-care – Self-care is a great way to prioritize your health and wellness. It’s an opportunity to cuddle up with a good book and blanket, light a candle and watch your favorite movie, or simply spend some time cooking a healthy meal – whatever you like!
- Recite Affirmations – Sometimes, our negative thoughts creep in without us noticing them. A great way to stand up to any negativity is by reciting daily affirmations. In case you need a reminder, leave a sticky note in your bathroom mirror with one of your favorite positive affirmations.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There’s no shame in asking for help when things feel overwhelming or you need a break. Many times, loved ones are more than willing and happy to help – they simply may not know that you need any! If you’re looking for some additional support, try the following ideas:
- Open Up To Your Partner – Sharing how you’re feeling with your partner is a great place to start. Whether you’re confused about test results, frustrated by a recent appointment, or simply need to vent, ask your partner to grab a cup of coffee and let it out.
- Connect with a Friend – Whether you value your friend’s advice, are looking for a shoulder to cry on, or could use a few laughs, connecting with a friend is a great way to boost your mood and feel supported.
- Talk to a Professional – Sometimes, talking with a professional is the best way to advocate for your own health. If you’re unsure where to start, ask your doctor for a referral or recommendation.
Speak Up When Something Feels Off
You know your body better than anyone else, so when something doesn’t feel right, speak up! If you’ve been experiencing some unusual symptoms (such as pain, cramping, nausea, or fatigue) if you don’t feel like yourself, or if you feel any signs of depression or hopelessness, make an appointment with your doctor. It’s much better to speak up and face a smaller problem, rather than hold it inside and let the issue become much larger.
Take Control Over Your Health Today
It may seem like a massive undertaking if you try to tackle your overall health in one day, but luckily, it’s something that can be managed piece by piece, and a little bit each day. Start by working to change your habits and slow down. Dedicate time to your physical and emotional health by prioritizing important appointments and taking care of your mind. Then, when you need it, don’t hesitate to open up to others and ask for help. Spending time each day to focus on your health will only improve your overall health and well-being down the line.