Women’s Health Month: The Unique Challenges Women Face as They AgeMay is Women’s Health Month, and there is no better time to focus on your overall health if you’re a woman. Too often, ladies face a tremendous amount of stress but tend to ignore their own health needs. While one would think the situation would improve as women grow older, it actually seems to be the opposite. In fact, women may face more challenges and stress as they grow older than people previously realized.
Stress affects a woman’s overall healthStress is something that affects almost every adult. Concerns over money, job performance, loved ones, and health are enough to keep people up at night. For women, the concerns may be magnified, because they and others feel that they should serve as everything to everyone. The ideas of multitasking and being superwomen are ingrained in our society, so many women use them to determine how successful they are in their lives. These expectations can lead to considerable daily stress, and much of the time, it isn’t something that goes away. Instead, prolonged stress can lead to problems such as a loss of sleep, anxiety, worry, depression, weight gain, and addiction.
Common causes of stress for womenWe face different challenges at different times in our lives. When we’re in our 20s, we may be struggling to find the place where we belong. We may want to start a successful career, find a mate, and live an exciting life. When we’re in our 30s, it may be about starting a family – or not – and managing many things. Scheduling, working, playing, being a good parent, maintaining solid relationships, and dealing with finances can all be stressors during this time. Often, by the time that women reach their 40s and 50s, they may be in different stages of their lives. Homes might be bigger – and so are their mortgages. There are car payments, college payments, credit card bills, and work and family responsibilities. Some women in this age group are taking care of aging parents. Women may be experiencing break-ups and divorces during this time of life. In addition to these concerns, many women may feel invisible. They could be noticing changes in their bodies. Hormonal changes might cause weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, and other symptoms, causing women to feel as if they are aging even faster.
Health effects of stress and hormonal changesAs women age, they could face additional health concerns as well as stress. For example, women who are postmenopausal are at an increased risk for osteoporosis, a disease that could cause their bones to break more easily. There may be other health developments. Since metabolism can slow down during menopause, women may find that they gain weight more easily. Depression can also strike. When their children move away from home, empty nesters may struggle to find their place in a new, kid-free world. The house might be too quiet and there might be a distance between women and their partners. Women who find themselves widowed might be facing grief, depression, and other problems. Stress can create big problems, and women aren’t immune. If women don’t treat their feelings of anxiety, worry, and depression and ignore their overall needs, they may face physical and mental health problems such as
- Heart disease
- Physical injuries
- Chronic pain
Poor health isn’t inevitableWomen should remember that age-related health problems aren’t inevitable. It is possible to feel good and stay healthy, but it’s important to take the right steps and embrace positive practices that could include
- Practicing self-care. For some, this is taking time to relax. For others, this is making a conscious effort to go to bed early or take a walk each day. Self-care is whatever you need to do to help you relieve stress.
- Eating right. While many of us aren’t healthy eaters all the time, trying to eat healthy, well-rounded meals regularly can help prevent weight gain and lower the risk for conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
- Incorporating activity into your day. Choosing what works for you is always best and talking to your doctor before starting new activities is wise, but there are many ways to be active. Yoga or walking can help ease pain and anxiety and make sleeping easier. If you’ve been working out for a while, don’t stop. Adjust to meet your needs, but keep going strong.
- Seeking treatment if you need it. Don’t ignore your problems. If you’re struggling with an addiction, seek treatment. If you’re having a hard time with sadness or panic attacks, get the help you deserve to make life fun again. We all struggle sometimes, and you might be surprised to find that there are all kinds of ways to find the support you need.
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