Mother’s Day is a time to shower mom with love and gifts. It’s also a time to remind mom to consider the gift of her health.
“Women tend to think first of the health and well-being of their loved ones while putting their own health on the back burner,” says Anna McMaster, MD, a primary care provider at Mercy Health — Henry County Family Medicine. “The problem with this is if you aren’t taking care of yourself then you cannot take care of everyone in the family.”
The month of May is also Women’s Health Month. Take this opportunity to learn how you can help the women in your life care for themselves.
Encourage mom to schedule an annual well visit
Why are these routine appointments so important? Because preventative care can be lifesaving.
“Even if you are feeling well now, your doctor will screen for a variety of health conditions that you may not be experiencing any symptoms for yet,” says Dr. McMaster. “Cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses can present themselves differently in the early stages. Annual screenings help us catch these conditions and diseases early when we have a better chance of treating them.”
And if mom doesn’t have a primary care provider, now is the time to find one. Establishing a relationship with a health care provider before you are sick is essential to maintaining your good health.
Another benefit of a regular check-up is that they allow you to have a conversation with your provider.
“Sometimes patients are not sure what’s wrong, but they recognize that something is not right,” Dr. McMaster shares. “When you are comfortable having an open and honest conversation with your doctor, these conversations become easier and may help identify an underlying medical condition.”
Have mom take time to focus on their mental health
This past year has been a difficult one. Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to stay connected with friends and family. Although moms sometimes feel guilty taking time for themselves, it is important for them to step back and take mental health breaks. That often means taking a moment alone.
“You have to take the time to nurture yourself so that you can nurture others,” Dr. McMaster says. “Go for a walk, read a book, take a bubble bath… whatever helps you relax and clear your head.”
Make sure mom is eating healthy and exercising
Healthy eating and exercise have been proven to have a positive impact on both mental and physical health. Unfortunately, it is easy to become overwhelmed when it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices. Keep in mind, the types of food and exercise you want for children is just as important to want for yourself.
“We have the mentality that it takes too much time to fix a healthy meal or fit in exercise,” says Dr. McMaster.
Admittedly, it does take some work to adopt healthy habits. Dr. McMaster suggests starting with a few small changes and building from there.
“Make an effort to stock your kitchen with foods that are both healthy and convenient,” she advises. “It is the season of farmer’s markets, so now is a great time to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.”
When it comes to exercise, Dr. McMaster shares it is a common misconception that you have to spend hours at the gym to have any impact on your health. Instead, the recommendation is to get 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. And if you truly don’t have time, break that up.
“Take a 10-minute walk during a break or a 20-minute walk while waiting to pick your child up from practice,” Dr. McMaster shares. “Every little bit helps to build the foundation of healthy living.”
Learn about the women’s health services we offer at Mercy Health.