Women's Health Matters
Some women are blessed with fantastic health throughout their lives while other women are
constantly riddled with illness upon illness. Most women fall somewhere in between… not chronically
sick, but not the picture of perfect health, either.
Whatever the status of your health, you should always be as vigilant
as possible about keeping yourself healthy, while not allowing yourself to become consumed with health matters to
the point that you're paranoid about every health decision. It's a fine line, but an important one
nonetheless. You owe it to yourself to make sure that you are doing everything you can to get and stay
Why You Should Care
You get one body, and that's it. Sure, there are things you can
do to tweak your body and change a thing here and change a thing there, but the reality is that you need to take
care of your body or else you will definitely feel the effects of your neglect. So many diseases and ailments
can be avoided altogether if you simply take care of your body correctly on a continuous basis.
Sometimes it's difficult to look at the bigger picture and understand
that ultimately you are the only person responsible for your health and well-being. Medical professionals are
only one part of the process of getting and staying healthy because if you aren't committed to the process then it
just isn't going to work. Nobody can force you into it.
THE SUPERWOMAN SYNDROME
Although not all women have this issue, it is definitely a prevalent one among most women: the tendency to take
on every task and to prove that you can handle it all. Perhaps this stems from years of men thinking that women
were frail and inept, and now women want to prove that this is far from the truth. Or maybe it's because most women
find themselves doing the bulk of domestic duties while still holding down a job. For whatever reason, women must
take care not to bite off more than they can chew because your body will react if you try to do too much.
Too Much Is Bad
Very few people can pull off a full schedule all the time. Everyone has that one friend - that one perfect
friend -who seems to be able to take care of everything and everyone and still look fabulous. It is almost as if
that person enjoys a full schedule and wouldn't have it any other way. You can never really tell if that is
actually the case, or if instead this person is anguished inside because she can't get a moment to herself. It's
true that there are some ever-energetic folks who can't seem to get enough to do, but most people who are
over-scheduled aren't very happy about it.
You need to realize that you need time off once in a while, if for nothing else then you sorely need it for your
health's sake. Some people just don't understand that there is a direct correlation between your stress level and
your health. You can't have a full schedule all the time with plenty of work, school, kids, volunteering,
housework, and whatever else consumes your day without some breaks once in a while (unless, of course, this is just
the thing that makes you happy). Sometimes women have no choice but to burn the candle at both ends because there
is no one else there to work, take care of the house, and do all the other things that need to be done in order to
keep things going. Women like this must make a concerted effort to find ways to slow down, even though it's not an
If you are fortunate enough to be a woman who does not necessarily have to take care of all the things you take
care of, but you just do it because you think you can, or worse, you're afraid that someone else might not do as
well of a job as you do, then it's time to reevaluate things. Stop taking on more tasks. Delegate some tasks out to
other people. If you give this a try and find that you are miserable then you can always go back to being
Superwoman, but odds are you'll enjoy not being so busy.
Stress levels are a real concern. The effects of stress on the body are amazing. Have you ever told a friend
that he or she looks awful and his or her response was, "I know…I'm so stressed out." Stress will eventually take
on a physical manifestation if left unchecked. The people around you will be able to tell that you are embroiled in
stress because after a while there is simply no hiding it. Stress can make you break out with a nasty bout of acne,
it can make you have dark circles under your eyes, and you might start to gain weight as a result of stress (some
women actually lose weight instead of gaining weight when stressed out). In addition, you might lose sleep and be
unable to concentrate on your daily tasks.
The effects of stress on your body are a whole different ballgame. When your stress level is elevated your body
will produce more cortisol in reaction to it. Cortisol is a hormone that comes from the adrenal gland, and so that
means that your body is taxing your adrenal gland and pumping your body full of hormones that can eventually result
in medical problems. A certain amount of cortisol in your system is normal, but constant supply of this hormone in
the amounts your body produces when you are stressed out is not good. In other words, spending your time steeping
in stress on a constant basis is bad for your health. If you thought high levels of stress only resulted in a few
sleepless nights, think again.
You have to remember that your mind and your body are part of a bigger system, and therefore your body will
always react to what your mind is doing. If you don't believe this, then try a small experiment: You will want to
sit in one spot for this entire exercise. Spend a few minutes relaxing and thinking about serene and calm things,
and then check your heart rate. Next, take a few minutes to think about the things in your life that stress you
out, such as bills, work, school, or anything else that is on your mind and makes you feel a anxious. Once you have
spent a few moments thinking about the stress in your life, check your heart rate again.
In the vast majority of cases your heart rate will be significantly higher when you think about stressful things
than it was when you were pondering calm and serene things. You'll notice that you didn't necessarily change
anything with your body…you didn't get up from your sitting position so it wasn't physical activity that elevated
your heart rate. Instead, it was simply the mere thought of stressful things that got your heart pumping faster.
Now that you know that the mere thought of stress can have physiological effects on your body, imagine what
constant and actual stress does to your health.
Figure out what you can say no to. Superwoman has a problem: she doesn't know how to say no. Sometimes women
won't say no to new projects and other things because they don't want to offend the asker. Other times women are so
worried that they will be thought of in a poor light for saying no that they instead say yes. Of course, there are
some women who just seem to think that they can actually do everything, so what is the harm in taking on another
Here is a good test as to whether you should decline an offer to take on another project: when you are initially
approached to take on the project, is your first inclination to think to yourself, Oh dear, how do I say no to this
without getting into trouble/hurting someone's feelings/losing my job? If that is the first thing that pops into
your head then it is a great indication that you shouldn't be taking anything else on right now. It's a good idea
to follow your first instinct with things like this, especially if you are already feeling a little stressed out to
begin with. If you have real issues with saying no (in other words, if the thought of telling someone no makes you
really nervous) then maybe you should practice with the people close to you.
Try this: the next time your kids ask you to do something that you really don't have time to do, or if your
husband asks you for something that you can't pull off, gently tell them you can't do it. Once you learn how to say
no to the people close to you then you can move on to declining offers from other people. If you find that the
opposite is the problem…that is, that you have no problem saying no to other people but saying no to your family is
torture…then start with other people and work your way to your loved ones.
Remember that saying no to something when you truly don't have the time to do it does not make you a bad person,
or any less of a mother or wife. If anything, it makes you a better person because you aren't packed to the gills
with things to do. Wouldn't it be great to have a little extra time on your hands? How much more efficient would
that make you? If you have any hopes of keeping your stress level down then you need to learn how to say no.
ARE YOU HEALTHY NOW?
The term healthy is a term that can be debated. What is
healthy? Does it mean you can participate in a triathlon? Does it mean you feel serene on the inside? No matter
which definition you choose, the most important person to define what healthy means is you.
Do You Pay Attention To Your Body?
Do you ever feel sideswiped by illness? Sometimes women are so busy
that they don't really pay attention to the things that their bodies are desperately trying to tell them. If
you constantly feel as though illnesses come out of left field without any sort of warning whatsoever it may
actually be that your body has been trying to warn you for some time and you just haven't been paying
attention. Huge illnesses rarely hit severely and without any warning, so try to learn how to pay attention
to the things your body is trying to tell you. If you listen you may realize that your body is giving you
plenty of notice of an impending sickness.
Some people are just afraid of doctors. Many people have good
reason for being afraid of doctors. Perhaps these people had bad experiences in hospitals or maybe they were
often ill as children and developed a fear of doctors and hospitals after having spent a good portion of their
childhood experiencing painful procedures and tests. Things like this are not easy to erase from memory,
especially when they happen to someone as a child.
Other people just naturally have an aversion to visiting doctors
because of the invasive methods some doctors have to use for procedures. Some people just don't like doctors
at all, regardless of what procedures are used because they don't like the potential for the things doctors may
tell them…they figure that as long as they don't visit doctors then nobody can ever tell them that there is
something seriously wrong with their health.
Many people feel this way on a subconscious level, and even though
it's not a very good philosophy to have it still holds true for some people to the point that they avoid doctors at
all costs (oftentimes to their detriment). If you have a phobia of doctors or medical facilities then it's a
good idea to take the time to figure out why you feel this way.
This may be something that you can work out yourself, or something
that you may need to do with a therapist's assistance, but there is probably some solid reason why you feel the way
you do. Sometimes all it takes is visiting an ill friend or relative in a hospital and forever afterwards a
person can get the heebie-jeebies just by walking into a doctor's office.
After you figure out why it is that you have such problems with
doctors and hospitals you can then set to work figuring out what you can do in order to get over your fears so you
can start visiting your doctor as often as you should. Sometimes it may be an intensive process in order to
get rid of your fears, but sometimes all it takes is the realization that your fears are keeping you from
potentially life-saving medical care.
If you realize that the best thing for your health is not to avoid
doctors and hospitals then you might start to feel better about seeing doctors.
On the next page we
will attempt to get a baseline of your
current health status.