May 13, 2021
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Nora Tossounian, M.D. contributes to topics such as Internal Medicine.
Pamela Schultz, M.D. contributes to topics such as Obstetrics and Gynecology.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has been tough on everyone. For women, the pandemic may mean taking on additional roles such as teacher, caregiver and worker, all while dealing with the stressors of the “new normal.”
A 2020 study by McKinsey showed that mothers are up to three times more likely to take on the majority of housework and caregiving than fathers. Many even put off important doctors visits and screenings because there simply is no time.
But taking care of yourself should be at the top of your “to-do list” because maintaining your health is one of the most important things you can do to take care of your family.
Here are 6 things you can do today to start to take care of you:
- Schedule a Wellness Check
Wellness checks aren’t just for kids. It’s equally as important for women to see their primary care physician annually, and get important health screenings, such as Pap tests or mammograms as recommended by your doctor.
Nora Tossounian, M.D., internal medicine specialist at Hackensack Meridian Health, has seen the results of women putting their health on hold during the past year to care for others. “Postponing preventive screenings such as wellness checks, mammograms, and gynecological exams can have serious consequences, including diagnosis at a more advanced stage of illness,” says Dr. Tossounian.
Pamela Schultz, M.D., an obstetrics & gynecology specialist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, says preventive gynecological care is especially important for the early detection of female reproductive cancers, as well as benign conditions that can affect a woman’s health.
“Having an annual gynecological exam and following your doctor’s recommendations for mammograms and Pap tests can help to detect breast and cervical cancers early when they are easier to treat,” says Dr. Schultz. “We understand that women are busy, so we make it as convenient as possible to schedule appointments for preventive screenings.”
- Cut Out The Junk
Challenge yourself to cut out processed foods for 30 days and focus on consuming only whole, real foods, such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, beans and lean meats. Removing processed foods from your diet could help you sleep better, think clearly and boost your overall mood.
- Detox from Electronics
Set aside time for non-screen time. Our jobs, now more than ever, require us to hop on video calls and remain plugged in to email at all hours. Going for a walk and reading a book are great ways to create space between you and your device. Meditation, even for just five minutes a day, can be a great exercise in mindfulness and finding stillness in a noisy world.
- Move More
Many people think of exercise as a chore, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can walk, ride bikes, hike, swim, dance, or anything that gets you moving. Making an effort to stay active is what matters most. If you find an activity you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick with it and experience the fitness and mood boosting benefits.
- Just Breathe
For stress relief, mindfulness techniques like focused breathing may be your answer. Start by sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Increase your awareness of each breath, focusing as you inhale and then as you exhale. You can practice for as little as five minutes a day and increase the length of the sessions as you grow more comfortable.
- Reach Out if You’re Struggling
Substance use and mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression have been on the rise during the pandemic. Dr. Tossounian said it is especially important for women to seek help if they are struggling.
“Because women often wear many different hats, some may be having trouble coping with economic, emotional and logistical stressors associated with the pandemic,” says Dr. Tossounian. “We want to encourage women to seek the mental health care they need — so they can be their best for the people they love.”
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our clinical contributors: Nora Tossounian, M.D., Pamela Schultz, M.D.
- Need a doctor in your area? Call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
- Book a mammogram
- Behavioral health services
- Find an upcoming virtual well-being program for you!
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.