Women’s History Month with a Focus on Women’s Mental and Physical Health
As we celebrate women and their many achievements this (and every) month, we would like to highlight the importance of mental and physical health for women.
Our mental health is influenced by many factors, including stress, hormones, life stages and life events, relationships, family, and spirituality. Just as we pursue physical fitness by taking care of our bodies, we can also pursue optimum mental health by taking care of our minds. In fact, there is a lot of crossover between the two: factors such as diet, exercise, and sleep are essential to both body and mind, and help foster emotional richness, balance, well-being, and resiliency.
Good mental health is essential to overall well-being.
More than 1 in 5 women in the United States experienced a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety in the past year. Many mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder, affect more women than men, or affect women in different ways from men.
Sleep affects your mental and physical health.
Getting good sleep helps boost your mind and mood and can help prevent health problems. Women are more likely than men to have insomnia and other sleep problems. Changing hormones during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can affect how well a woman sleeps.
Stress is a reaction to a change or a challenge.
In the short term, stress can be helpful. It makes you more alert and gives you energy to get things done. But long-term stress can lead to serious health problems. Women are more likely than men to report symptoms of stress, including headaches and upset stomach. Women are also more likely to have mental health conditions that are made worse by stress, such as depression or anxiety.
Incorporate self-care, to live a fulfilling life
Self-care is vital for physical, emotional, and mental health. Giving 20 minutes a day to small but important self-care habits can improve your overall well-being. Consider practices such as getting enough hours of quality sleep, meditating, yoga, exercising, or other activities that spark your interest or make you feel good about yourself. Other self-care options can include eating something you enjoy, trying new things, painting or writing something that lets out your creative energy, or having a massage or a facial. The type of self-care practice doesn’t matter as much as the benefits it provides.
Women’s History Month, which is observed in March in the US, UK and Australia and in October in Canada, began with a single day. International Women’s Day is March 8, and it has been observed in some form since 1911. It was officially commemorated by the United Nations in 1975 and was officially recognized by the UN two years later.
-Bonnie Knox, LCPC, CADC