I know Mother’s Day was last Sunday, so I have to ask a few questions: Did you enjoy the day? Were you celebrated? Did you celebrate that special mother in your life?
Mother’s Day is a modern celebration started in 1908 and that became a national holiday in 1914. We celebrate our mothers with flowers, cards, and gifts (if you have young kids, these always seem to involve a handprint). We celebrate our mothers with brunches, dinners, and maybe even a special dessert. We celebrate our mothers with church dedications and family get-togethers. We celebrate our mothers, in part, because they focus on everyone else, 24/7.
This is National Women’s Health Week. The Office of Women’s Health (part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) leads this national observance. It kicks off on Mother’s Day and is celebrated through the following Sunday, today. The goal is to empower women to make their own health a priority and to help women understand steps to take for better health.
Better health… that seems a little esoteric. The Office of Women’s Health recognizes that women are usually the caregivers of their family, often spanning generations. But we cannot care for others if we do not care for ourselves first.
Therefore, “better health” is categorized into physical and mental health that includes age-appropriate preventive screenings, regular checkups, healthy eating, activity tips, mental health tools, and healthy behaviors.
In general, women ages 20 to 50 should consider the following general health tips:
• Get an annual well-woman visit
• Get your blood pressure checked
• Eat healthy
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days
• Quit smoking or don’t start
• Limit alcohol use
• Get a seasonal flu shot
• Ask what other shots are needed
• Talk to your doctor about any domestic and interpersonal violence
And all women should talk to their doctor about their family history including cancer, heart disease, and mental health issues. These tools, checklists, and tips are available at womenshealth.gov.
Every woman is different — every woman at different ages and life circumstances is different. For instance, one unhealthy behavior for women in their 20s is texting while driving. My 92-year-old grandmother does not have that problem. But everyone can agree that texting while you are driving is an overall unhealthy behavior. My 92 year old grandmother can certainly help the younger women in her life (which at her age is pretty much all of them) by helping them understand the importance of healthy behavior and decision making.
So let’s not stop celebrating Mother’s Day just because that was “so last Sunday.” And let’s not stop celebrating National Women’s Health Week because the calendar stops today. Let’s commit to helping all the women in our lives (including ourselves) understand what steps to take to being the healthiest “you” possible!
Hosanna Fletcher has lived in Newton County since 2005. With a Masters in Public Health and another in Sociology, she has worked on a variety of community development projects, led training sessions for Lay Health Advisors, conducted and evaluated health risk assessments, and designed and implemented employee wellness programs. Hosanna and her husband Kevin, a Newton County native, have been married for 15 years this October. They have two children — Miranda, 11, and Thomas, 3.