(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)
Women empowerment is one of the most important factors in overall growth and development. Four key pillars of women empowerment are in terms of women’s health, education, income, and participation in decision-making, out of which health is of paramount importance. As the working women are contributing immensely in the overall social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, ensuring their health would not only lead to their own good health but also result in greater productivity, growth, and development of the entire society. Let us see as to how working women can maintain their own health while remaining connected to their office jobs as well as caring for others.
Every woman has her own uniqueness in terms of physical, mental, and personal health status. Some women may need to take extra care of their health due to such reasons as monthly periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and certain women-specific health issues. A good self-awareness can help you take necessary steps for prevention and management. Talk to your doctor for further help and support.
Prevent spread of germs!
Every season is a season of its characteristic infections such as flu, stomach infections etc. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 30 seconds; ensure it especially before eating your food or snack. Take care of your workplace too. Use an appropriate disinfectant cleaner or spray to clean your desk, keyboard, mouse, phone etc.
Maintain good personal hygiene!
Importance of personal cleanliness, daily bathing and wearing clean clothes is known to everyone. However, working women need to take extra precautions during their special days every month. Poor maintenance of personal, physical, and reproductive hygiene can pose risk of various infections, other health problems and gynecologic issues. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist for further information and guidance.
Take a balanced diet!
Ensure that your diet contains not only sufficient calories but also adequate amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Avoid foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Women with certain health condition like as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and hormonal problems may need to take further precautions in their meals. You can seek advice from your doctor and dietician, if required.
Do not skip meals, you can have working snacks!
Never skip your meals due to work pressure. Plan your day for work as well as meals. Take your breakfast, lunch and dinner on time and do snacking in-between at least twice (that is, between breakfast & lunch and between lunch & dinner). Plan a healthy working lunch or choose a healthy snack. Prefer salads, fruits, nuts and multigrain food items over oily fast foods, candies, and other junk foods in your snacks.
Keep yourself well-hydrated!
Drink plenty of water and healthy beverages like green tea, warm milk, buttermilk, limewater, and vegetable soups.
Instead of fresh juice, eat the fruit with its pulp and fibre which is a healthier practice. Drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water and other liquids daily (which means a glass of water after every 1 to 2 hours). Avoid too much of coffee, cold drinks and other aerated soft drinks.
Exercise at workplace
As per your liking, stamina, and feasibility, choose any exercise such as morning walk, jogging, cycling, yoga, swimming, or any other outdoor sport, and make it a part of your daily routine. At your workplace also, you can do certain exercises such as stretching of your neck, arms, and legs. So, leave your office chair after every 2 to 3 hours of continuous work and exercise for 5-10 minutes, or simply go for a walk. After that, you can resume your work with more freshness. Controlling weight not only keeps you fit and freshened but also prevents or delays the onset of such diseases as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and osteoarthritis (problems of joints).
Be smoke-free and avoid alcohol!
Do not start smoking; and if you do smoke, quit it now. Also avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking poses greater health risks to women, especially during pregnancy and after delivery. Avoid alcohol and other habit-forming bad substances (such as sleeping pills). During pregnancy and breastfeeding, such habits can affect the mother as well as her baby.
Take adequate sleep!
Do not remain engaged for so long periods at your work and household chores that deprive you of your sleep. Lack of adequate sleep can affect one’s health adversely. Ensure that you get sound sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours daily. Before going to sleep, you can read a book, do some meditation, or condition yourself to any other task of you interest so that you get a sound sleep.
Working women are more prone to have stress due to their higher requirements to maintain a work-life balance. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, spend quality time with family & friends, and get plenty of sleep. Have some “Me Time” in your daily life and vent your daily stress out during that time. Also, know your rights at the workplace such as your rights for prevention of sexual harassment at workplace and your entitlement to the use of personal protective equipment to prevent occupational hazard. If needed, meet the life coach at HCL Healthcare clinic with whom you can share your personal concerns under strict confidentiality and seek necessary guidance and support to make your life happy and stress-free.
Do self-breast examination regularly!
This examination in done in different postures and every woman should know how to do it. It can help you detect any lump or other abnormality in breast at an early stage so that you can take further action well in time. When needed, no woman should hesitate and must seek help from her doctor or gynecologist immediately. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist for further information about it.
Get your health check done!
Take advantage of cashless health checks available for you and your family members. If you have history of any illness either in you or your family, speak to your family doctor or gynecologist for health check-up and advice. There are also certain women-specific screening tests (such as Pap test for cervical cancer), which help in prevention, early diagnosis, and prompt treatment of respective women-specific diseases. Talk to the clinic doctor/gynecologist for further information and guidance.
Take extra care for the special and vulnerable ones!
Many working women suffer silently due to their women-specific health problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menstrual problems, gynecologic infections etc. Women with certain chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disorder, asthma, heart disease, morbid obesity etc., have higher risk of infections, other health problems and their complications. Similarly, women need extra care and support during pregnancy and after delivery. Moreover, many women experience problems while moving towards their menopause and after the menopause. If you are one of these special and vulnerable ones, do not delay in seeking help in case you have any symptom or health issue.
(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)