Staying up to date on routine appointments and starting healthy habits can make lasting improvements to overall health
During National Women’s Health Week (May 8-14), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reminds women of the importance of routine and preventive care for both their mental and physical health. This weeklong recognition, which kicks off on Mother’s Day, also serves as an important time to encourage women and girls to take steps to improve their overall health.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH) and DHEC also stress the importance of catching up on missed or delayed annual checkups due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delaying routine or annual health care checkups can impact individuals in different ways and can lead to undiagnosed health issues or a delay in treating preventable illness.
In June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that four in 10 adults had avoided medical care appointments because of concerns related to COVID-19.
“Too often, women put their health last when they should be prioritizing their bodies, minds and overall wellbeing,” said Kimberly Seals, Director of DHEC’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. “It’s important that women take time to put their health first. Make an appointment if you’re overdue for checkups and be sure to stay current on preventive screenings like mammograms, PAP smears, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, stress tests, and physical exams.”
Better overall health can be achieved by taking small steps each day that can have lasting effects and noticeable improvements on a women’s physical, mental and emotional health. Women and girls can implement small, positive changes by:
- Getting active. Try to move more than you sit during the day and aim for 75 to 300 minutes of exercise each week, depending on the intensity level.
- Eating healthy. Focus on incorporating more fruits and vegetables and lean meats. Be mindful of calories, sodium, sugar, cholesterol and fat.
- Paying attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress. Learn about depression among women.
- Avoiding unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbeltor bicycle helmet.
“Anyone feeling affected by stress, anxiety or depression should reach out to a health care provider for mental and emotional support and guidance,” said Seals. “These past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a drastic toll on everyone’s mental and emotional health. There’s no stigma or shame in asking for help. Getting help when you need it is one of the bravest and smartest things a person can do for themselves and for their families and friends.”
Women and girls can find more resources at the National Women’s Health Week webpage, www.womenshealth.gov.Find additional information and learn how DHEC works to improve women’s health and the health of all South Carolinians atscdhec.gov/health.
SC HOPES is a support line for any South Carolinian impacted by COVID-19 or any other associated stressors. Anyone can call this line to be linked to resources for mental health and substance use treatment or other needs. SC-HOPES is available 24/7, toll-free, at (844) SC-HOPES (724-6737).
Tu Apoyo is a Spanish-language companion line for SC-HOPES. Tu Apoyo is available from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily, toll-free, at (833) TU-APOYO (882-7696).