Let’s be honest- we all know that men are from Mars and Women are from Venus! We might be the same species, but the way our brains and bodies work are completely different. Living an active and healthy lifestyle is something we should all be doing, regardless of gender- however as women we do have different health needs to our male counterparts. As women, we often put everyone else’s needs above our own as we tend to be the natural caregivers in the family, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s important to take care of yourself if you want to look after others. Here are some of the ways you can ensure you’re looking after yourself as you should.
Take The Right Vitamins
As humans in general, we need the right vitamins and minerals in our diet for our bodies to function correctly. While there are lots of overlap between what men and women need, there are some vitamins and minerals especially that we can be prone to be deficient in as women. The first is iron, as women we can lack in this due to menstruation. Iron is used by the body to produce haemoglobin which is lost during your period, so this is something we need to be aware of. Eggs, meat, fish and leafy green vegetables are all high in this mineral, so be sure that you’re incorporating enough of these things into your diet for your needs. A food tracker like MyFitnessPal can be useful for tracking micro and macronutrients and you can be sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff within your daily calorie allowance. Iodine is another vitamin that we need to be getting enough of as women, studied have found that women aged between twenty and thirty nine have the lowest iodine levels compared with any other group. It’s especially important as it plays a role in brain development of a growing foetus- so whether you’re planning on getting pregnant or there’s any chance you could fall pregnant by mistake, you need to know you have enough of this in your body. Sea veggies and seafood are some of the best natural sources of iodine. Folic acid is another essential nutrient for pregnancy, and plays a role in the formation of the spinal cord and development. All women of childbearing age should be taking folic acid, but you can get this naturally in your diet by eating leafy green vegetables as well as in foods like chickpeas and lentils. As a bonus, folic acid will help you to grow healthy strong hair! Be sure to eat a balanced and varied diet that’s high in fresh produce. On top of this, take vitamins that are aimed at women as they will contain everything your body will need (or potentially need during pregnancy). Just don’t rely solely on vitamin tablets, the main source should always be from a healthy diet.
Look After Your Reproductive Health
As women, we have really drawn the short straw when it comes to contraception. Unless you want to use a barrier method, it’s the woman who has to take hormonal contraception or have an IUD device fitted to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, that’s just the way that it is. For this reason, it’s so worth finding a method that works for you. Combined oral contraceptives are usually suitable for women under thirty, who don’t smoke and aren’t too overweight. Progesterone only (known as the ‘mini pill’) can usually be used by those who aren’t suited to combined methods. If you know you’re forgetful with taking your contraception, having an implant fitted could be the way to go. This is a small plastic rod inserted in your upper arm and works for three years. IUD ‘coil’ devices are fitted into your uterus and are either coated in copper or hormones which prevent pregnancy. There are lots of options when it comes to contraception, so find out which works best for you. If you’re starting on new hormone methods, it can take up to three months for unwanted side effects to settle down- these are usually minor and disappear once you’ve been on them for a while. However if it’s been longer than this and you’re still experiencing unwanted effects, it’s worth switching to something else. Be aware that unless you use a barrier method you can still contract diseases, so new partners should always be tested first. It’s so important to look after your reproductive health. Attending your cervical screening tests is another way to do this, your GP will send you a reminder letter when yours is due so be sure to have this done.
As women, we of course want to feel confident in the way we look and take care of our appearance. Life can get busy at times, and you might find that you feel scruffy or unkempt. This can this knock your confidence, so try to make time to pamper yourself. Go to the hairdresser to have them give you a colour and style you love. Use oils and hair masks to maintain the condition. Visit the spa for a facial, and between visits make sure you’re using good skincare products. Take hot baths and apply indulgent body lotions afterwards. Paint your nails, remove unwanted hair, book in for a massage- whatever makes you look and feel good will benefit you physically and mentally. You could book in for the odd spa day with a friend, a great chance to socialise while pampering yourself at the same time! Relaxing is so important, and your pamper routine could be used as a way to wind down before bed or chill out after a long day. Light some candles, play some music and put some bubbles in the tub.
It’s so easy to put others in our lives before ourselves- especially when it comes to children and partners. But you really need to look after yourself too, in mind, body and spirit. Do what you can to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.