We, women, are both terribly good and terribly bad at care.
Meaning: we’re often so very good at caring for others, for anticipating the needs of everyone around us, at following guidelines, listening, and always striving to do better. Our loved ones are better for it, but often we’re worse off. Why is that?
Without relying too heavily on stereotypical tropes, it’s simply true that the bulk of caregiving often falls to women – we’re conditioned from birth to be accommodating to others’ needs. We excel at it; it’s a strength. But when it comes to taking care of ourselves, often we fall short.
If a doctor sits you down, looks you in the eye and says, “you need to do this,” we do it, don’t we? But it’s those little things, the things that are up to us, the things that we can ignore or put off, that go unchecked, and sometimes our health, both mental and physical, can suffer for it. By the time we finally get that thing seen about, it might be too late and the repercussions could be anything from some minor pain or inconvenience to a major health scare.
We need to make self-maintenance part of our regular routine. Something that we do for ourselves every day, as a matter of course. Those little things that we put off in favor of larger things that seem more important. We must put our health first and foremost. How do we find the motivation and the time to do this? What needs to change in our daily life?
Below are a few examples of things women should be doing as a matter of course, part of their routine, that often are overlooked or ignored:
So you do your cleaning regimen and use moisturizer every night, and you’re great about taking off your makeup before bed! You might even make it a point to wear sunscreen every single day (even better). But skincare is more than just the use of products and washing your face. You should be seeing a doctor semi-regularly to get any abnormalities checked out. Things like moles that are changing shape or color, odd rashes or bumps, and other skin mishaps that are cause for concern. Prevention is worth everything when it comes to your skin; don’t neglect it!
Many women, especially those of a certain age, find themselves needing glasses. You might be reading one afternoon and realize you can barely make out the words. Or perhaps you’re driving at night and suddenly the headlights are all three feet tall. Our eyes start to go as we get older, and yet so many of us neglect and ignore the signs, choosing to suffer instead. Why do we do that to ourselves? Eye exams are conducted everywhere from the doctor’s office to your local Walmart, are often covered by insurance, and women’s glasses come in a wide variety of needs, shapes and styles. So whether you need a small prescription set of reading glasses or something stronger, you can obtain them easily and affordably.
Aches and Pains
Sure, it’s natural to have a few aches and pains here and there as you age, too. If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet a lot, or if you’re always on the go, that might make it worse. But if you have aches and pains that don’t seem to let up, or they’re forcing you to take to your bed, it’s time to see a doctor. Chronic pain can be the result of many different illnesses and maladies and a doctor can help you get to the bottom of it. Nobody should suffer in pain; see your doctor to address how you’re feeling.
Just as vision is an important sense that so many women ignore when it’s decline, so too is hearing. Yes, it’s another one of those annoying age things; your hearing will decline a little as you get older. But if you’re straining to hear even when you’ve turned the volume all the way up, or you find yourself struggling to follow conversations, it might be time to see a hearing doctor about your needs. There are many hearing aids and other products on the market that are easy to use, discreet and affordable.
You follow your special diet restrictions to the letter; you listened to your doctor when she told you your dietary needs. You may have cut out gluten, dairy and sugar, but are you taking care to supplement with nutritious foods? Your diet plan will mean nothing if you aren’t getting the proper vitamins and minerals in your body. Make sure that your meals contain a wide range of fruits and vegetables, healthy sources of protein and fat, and that you’re drinking lots and lots of water.
Even the healthiest woman should take a multivitamin. Other supplements like fish oil/omega 3s, dietary fiber, melatonin to help you sleep, and more, can be a good addition to your nutritious diet. If you worry you’re deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, speak to your doctor about how to add it via a supplement to have you feeling like your best self. Always be sure to get their advice first, however, as some supplements might be unnecessary or harmful.
Too many of us think that being busy and on the go is enough in the exercise department. It isn’t! All women, especially those of advanced age, should be getting gentle exercise 2-3 times a week, some of which involves aerobic activity or cardio. Getting your heart pumping can drastically improve your health. There are lots of activities and exercises out there that are fun and gentle on the body, such as walking, hiking, cycling (with a stationary bike or on the road if you’re feeling adventurous – but always, always wear a helmet and run your lights!), yoga, aerobic dance, pilates, and more. Many exercises can be done with a friend or loved one, with the added benefit of social time, another thing women often sacrifice unnecessarily! Choose the one you love the best, and get moving! Your body and mind will thank you for it.
It’s a huge mistake to put off health concerns, good nutrition and self-care activities. As they say, “you can’t fill from an empty cup”. You must look after your health first and foremost, and the healthier you are, the more you’ll be able to do – and do it for years to come.