The beginning of a new school year is a great time to take stock of your health and to think about changes you may want to make over the next 6-9 months. Even if you don’t have school-age children, the end of summer/beginning of fall provides a natural “stopping point” for assessing how things are going and identifying a change or two you’d like to make.
And it’s a perfect time to remind yourself of something that many women tend to forget – your health is important, and you are worth the time and effort needed to take good care of yourself. Because many women care for others, but fail to care for themselves. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, now is the perfect time to change course and take some simple steps toward caring for your health.
These 6 questions can help you get started:
- Have I put off important medical/health care? Do you need to see your gynecologist, go for a mammogram, schedule a test, talk with a counselor, or find out more about a symptom that concerns you? If so, take time this week to schedule the needed appointment or test. You make sure that your husband or children get the health care they need, so make sure you get the care you need too.
- Do I sleep at least 7 hours a night? For many women, the answer is a resounding “no.” But sleep is really important to your health, mental health, and overall frame of mind. If you’re too busy to sleep at least 7 hours each night, you’re just too busy. If that’s the case, take time this week to assess your schedule and commitments in order to make time for adequate sleep.
- Do I feed my body well? Many women don’t – they eat fast and processed food on the run for many meals and snacks each week. Rather than taking time for real food that nourishes their bodies, they grab what’s quick and easy and fits their busy schedule. But, as is the case with sleep, if you’re too busy to eat real food for most meals and snacks, you’re just too busy. Your body needs and deserves better.
- Do I exercise most days of the week? Your body was designed to move, not to sit. Regular exercise or physical activity creates an amazing number of benefits for your health and mental health. Experts recommend that adults participate in exercise or physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes on most days of the week. But most women don’t reach even that minimum level. If you don’t, making time to get up and move regularly may be one of the best investments you could make in your health this year.
- Does my weight help me stay healthy and feel good about my body? Women don’t need to be thin to be healthy and feel confident, but carrying a lot of extra weight does create significant health risks. And it causes a lot of women to feel bad about their bodies and themselves. If your weight is causing health problems or affecting the way you feel about yourself, consider what you could do this fall to begin moving toward a healthier weight.How much stress am I experiencing? Stress is a normal part of life, but some women are living with a level of stress that’s almost unbearable. It affects their physical health, mental health, relationships with others, and overall quality of life. If your stress level has become unmanageable, taking steps to bring it under control may be the best thing you could do for yourself during this school year.
- Do I have time to connect regularly with the people I love and to pursue at least one of my interests? Sometimes, women’s lives become consumed with tasks that primarily benefit other people. And those tasks tend to push some of life’s most important activities to the side. Things like connecting in meaningful ways with the people they love or pursuing a dream, hobby, ministry, or activity that feeds their body, mind and spirit. Sure, there are times in life when tasks for others fill up almost every waking hour, but those times shouldn’t continue indefinitely. If your life is too full for you to connect regularly with the people you love and to pursue at least one of your interests, this may be the year to change your schedule in ways that allow you to do both of those things.
OK, I promised that the Healthy Tips of the Week would be short, and most of them will be! But I thought it might be helpful to start the series with a simple assessment that helps you take stock of some important areas of your health. I’ve been doing that kind of assessment over the past few weeks, and have decided to get serious about losing weight this fall. I only need to lose about 10 pounds, but I’ve needed to lose those 10 pounds for a very long time! So I’m figuring out how to improve my diet and increase my exercise in order to make it happen. What about you? Did the questions help you identify a change or two you want to make? Please share your thoughts in the Comments – I would love to hear from you.