Modern living can mean busy living - and does our health suffer?
Modern living can mean busy living. It can be full of making money, fulfilling professional and personal ambitions, raising a family, keeping in touch with friends, running a home...and sometimes maybe even relaxing.
Which is why for a lot of women, mental and physical health often take a back seat. In fact, the two major barriers for women not maintaining a healthy lifestyle are lack of time and the deprioritizing of their own wellbeing.
Many women can lead high-pressure lives, particularly when it comes to managing a career and family. Yet health is important, not just for themselves, but for the success of wider society and the economy.
Health and inequality
The disempowerment and discrimination against women and girls in our global society often puts them at a greater health risk than men. It's undeniable that health and access to good health services are intertwined with socio-cultural and economic factors.
According to the World Health Organization, some of these include:
- unbalanced power relationships between men and women
- social circumstances that lessen education and paid employment opportunities
- an exclusive focus on women’s need to reproduce
- potential or actual experience of physical, sexual and emotional abuse
- poverty, such as malnutrition and an unsafe cooking environment
- problems accessing information
This link between gender and health has also been highlighted by the Jean Hailes' Women's Health Survey which found almost one in six (16%) women surveyed felt they have experienced discrimination in accessing healthcare.
Women's equality is strongly linked to better overall health and a better society.
Common health risks for women
Some health issues also affect women differently and more commonly. A lot of the time these go undiagnosed, and some drug trials might not necessarily involve women subjects. Health complications that are more common in women include heart disease, breast cancer, autoimmune diseases , depression and anxiety.
Healthy living can help prevent disease, prolong life, and increase lifestyle enjoyment, so here are some practical reminders for making positive changes to better impact health.
Stress is a natural part of modern life, and it can have positive benefits. However, too much stress can cause long-term physical and mental damages, which is why it’s important to manage it.
Stress management doesn’t have to take up time. Practice breathing exercises or meditation. Write a to-do list or diary to organise your thoughts. Chat with a friend, relative or partner about anything that’s on your mind.
Don’t let stress control you. Take steps to control stress for a healthier lifestyle.
It’s important to stay on top of possible health complications. Find out what common illnesses affect women and keep an eye out for the signs.
Most importantly, don’t be scared or embarrassed to talk to people about it, especially your doctor. If you’re worried about your health, your doctor needs to know – even if going into the finer details makes your toes curl.
Staying informed and saying things out loud could save your life.
It can be easier for younger women to stay healthy. However, health isn’t a short-term state but a long-term investment, and more people need to think more about the future than their current situation.
Make changes now to your lifestyle like eating better, exercising more, sleeping better and cutting back on excess drinking.
Sleep is so important, but we often replace it with things that we believe will make us more productive, happier, or more successful. However, sleep is one of the best health boosts, and is easy to achieve if you create the right environment for rest.
Interrupting your sleep cycle can make you groggier than lack of sleep, so download apps that track your sleeping.. Another disruption to your sleep cycle is light, so invest in a mask or blackout curtains or turn off your television before bed. And don’t forget the distractions – switch your phone to silent and get some much-needed sleep!
The phrase ‘body positivity’ is definitely thrown about on social media, but it’s an important concept to live by. While physical fitness is vital, it’s also good for your mental health to stay positive about yourself.
Don’t set yourself unrealistic health goals – research what’s possible for your age and your fitness level. Encourage yourself and other people, and remember – what you see in the mirror is often controlled by how you feel that day, and not your reality. Ignore the camera, the mirror and the media and instead listen carefully to your body. It knows you best.
Healthier women for today for a better tomorrow
It’s important to not only focus on self health, but also on the health of loved ones and others close to you. Womanhood involves encouragement, support and community - and health is one of those areas where women can lift each other up. Make health an easy topic of conversations with your friends and family. Share health tips and concerns. Join exercise groups or buddy up to go to the gym or for a jog. Set goals together and celebrate when you achieve them. Watch out for any warning signs for bad physical or mental health. And, most importantly, give out those complements! A happy smile is a big health boost.
Good health isn’t just important today, but also for tomorrow, so start making positive changes now.