Encouraging women to prioritise their health

05 September 2022

During September, Women’s Health Week encourages and empowers women and girls to make their health a priority.

Mates4Mates is encouraging women, whether they be veterans, family members or the wider community, to take some time to focus on their health and wellbeing not just this week, but every week. 

Women can sometimes be so focused on taking care of others that they neglect their own health needs, especially when juggling all the family's activities and these demands can seem overwhelming at times.  

For women whose partner is a veteran who may have been impacted by service, it can also be easy to ignore their own wellbeing while caring for their significant other. This can lead to finding it hard to prioritise self-care over the needs of others, resulting in negative impacts on health and wellbeing.  

Finding the motivation, having the time or knowing where to go to access help or support can also make it hard for women to put their health first. To help improve the physical, mental and social health of the women in our lives, here are five simple pieces of advice from the Mates4Mates clinical team: 

1. Put your health first.  

Remind yourself that your health is as important as anyone else’s. Make it a priority and book an appointment with your doctor. Regular check-ups are important for maintaining good health and may reduce your risk of getting sick.  

As women age, regular screenings for a range of women’s health conditions such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer are  the best way to catch any potential problems early on and improve  chances of successful treatment. Other common health conditions such as cardiovascular (heart) disease and diabetes can also be picked up in their early stages. 

If time is a factor, there is also the option of a telehealth appointment with your doctor.  

2. Remember to take ‘me’ time.  

Whether it’s through meditation, making yourself a cup of tea or reading a book, taking time for yourself, doing something you enjoy, and being mindful while doing so, can help reduce stress and improve your mood. 

Mindfulness is the process of being in the present moment, without judgement or self-criticism, and tuning into all your senses. For example, the way the cup feels as you make your tea, noticing the steam come out of the kettle, and smelling the tea as it steeps.  

If your mind wanders while you are being mindful it is important to be aware of any possible self-judgement or criticism and just notice that your mind has wondered and bring your attention back to your senses.  

Mindfulness can improve someone’s ability to cope in times of increased stress, fear or anxiety. It can also improve ability to concentrate, and help you be truly present, including when spending time with friends and family. By learning this skill, you can improve your overall mental health and wellbeing. 

3. Movement is medicine.  

Exercise is beneficial to women at all phases of their life. It assists with hormonal regulation and is key to maintaining bone and muscle mass particularly during menopause.  

In addition, exercise helps manage and prevent many chronic conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and has mental health benefits. This is important as 50% of Australian women currently have one or more chronic conditions.  

The great news is that an exercise session doesn’t have to be long for it to benefit our health, nor do we necessarily need to break out in a sweat. It can be broken down into 10-minute chunks throughout the day and can include things like going for a walk around the block, playing with the kids/grandkids, yoga, or Pilates to name a few.  

It's never too late to become more physically active. Beginning or resuming exercise at any age will benefit both your physical and mental health. Something is better than nothing and a Mates4Mates exercise physiologist can support you to safely increase your level of physical activity. 

4. Connect with your community.  

Whether it’s a coffee with a friend or joining a book club, social connections and investing in your interpersonal relationships has a positive influence on health and wellbeing.  

Feeling connected to others can increase our ability to get through difficult situations, lower symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, improve our ability to recover from physical injury, and improve overall physical health.  

At Mates4Mates, we hold regular social connection activities, both face-to-face and online, to provide a safe place to build connections and find mateship. From weekly barbeques and coffee catchups to group physical training and hydrotherapy classes, there’s something for everyone.   

5. Reach out for support.  

If you are aware that you are not functioning as you normally do and are feeling more anxious, depressed or stressed than usual, or you’re experiencing poor body image, grief, loss, relationship issues, or feelings of being alone, this is the time to seek professional help. 

Last year, we noticed a 36% increase in females accessing Mates4Mates services – a reminder that all our clinical services and social connection activities are here for all veterans and their families, including women. 

At Mates4Mates, our psychologists, exercise physiologists, counsellors, and social workers are here to help support your health and wellbeing.  

If you are a veteran or family member who has been impacted by service who is looking to improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing, please call 1300 462 837 (1300 4 MATES) to book an appointment with a Mates4Mates psychologist or exercise physiologist. 

Written by Cathy Rowe, Mates4Mates Exercise Physiologist; and Hannah Jarrold, Mates4Mates Psychologist. 

References 

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). (2018). Exercise & Women's Health. Exercise Right. Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). Retrieved from https://exerciseright.com.au/essa-ebooks/

Tags:
  • Mental health
  • Veterans
  • Partners and families
  • Physical health and wellbeing

Latest news

news1

Eat Well This Veterans' Health Week

This October, Mates4Mates is participating in Veterans’ Health Week as it encourages veterans and their families to ‘Eat Well’ to support their health and wellbeing.

news1

Moving forward with sport

Adaptive sports, which are recreational or competitive sports that accommodate people with disabilities, can play an important part in the physical and mental recovery process for veterans.

news1

Bringing Arts Therapy to Defence schools

Service-related physical injuries or mental health issues can affect the entire family and for children who find it difficult to talk about or understand their feelings Arts Therapy may be helpful.