It’s National Women’s Health Week, which means it’s all about YOU and how to be healthy

Mother’s Day kicked off the 18th annual National Women’s Health Week, an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority — one of our goals at Catching Health!

So what are some ways for women to move their health from #53 to Top 5 on their To Do Lists? Here are some suggestions (and links if you want to dive deeper).

Go get your physical

Also known as your annual exam, well-woman visit, or yearly check-up. And don’t forget that these include preventive screenings. These health screenings will vary by each person’s age and medical history.

Under normal circumstances, however, women in their twenties or thirties can expect to have their cholesterol and blood pressured checked, and regularly scheduled clinical breast exams Pap tests, and HIV or other tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

Women in their forties and fifties can expect to add mammograms and colorectal cancer screenings to their check-up routines. Women ages 65 and older may also start to have diabetes and bone density screenings.

Click here to find out more about health screenings for every age and stage of life.

Get physical

Whether you swim, rock climb, or shake your booty at Zumba, do something fun and physical. Being active can actually be a joy! That’s what I discovered when I ventured into my Discomfort Zone this year. I’m thinking of renaming it my Strength and Endurance Zone because that’s what has grown for me.

What have you always wanted to try? Click here for some suggestions. Remember, you don’t have to push yourself to the limit. Maybe what works for you this week is taking a long walk with a friend.

Eat good stuff

Choose healthy foods most of the time — fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and low-fat dairy — and limit the amount of unhealthy foods. (Notice I said limit, not necessarily eliminate!)

Just for this week, try making the best possible food choices for a few days. See how your body feels. If you try this experiment, even for a day, guess what? You just made your health priority number one! Click here to learn more about how to make healthy food choices.

Be kind to your mind

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health — and you better believe that one can affect the other — so treat your whole self with care. That means, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and staying centered.

Do you love settling down with a good book? Is yoga your thing? Or maybe you feel restored just sitting outside listening to the birds. Try making a list of five healthful things that make you feel sane and serene. This week, make time to do two (or more!) of those things.

Do’s and don’ts

The suggestions that follow may seem obvious, but they’re still well worth mentioning.

Do: Wear your seatbelt and/or bicycle helmet, wear sunscreen, know that you and your health are worth the effort and time.

Don’t: Smoke, text while driving, or take on everybody else’s problems as if they were your own.

Women are often pulled in many directions at once and whether because of social mores or biology (or perhaps a little of both) we’re expected to take care of others before ourselves. Women’s Health Week — and every week! — should be about taking care of ourselves. Keep in mind that airplane safety rule: put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then assist others.

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now she writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.