By Effie Hawthorne, Associate General Counsel, Alabama Board of Medical Examiners
As the Alabama State Bar’s Attorney Wellness Month comes to an end, so does another wellness-focused month: Women’s Health Month!
While women account for roughly 35% of Alabama attorneys, I think most would agree that we are some of the hardest workers in the room and as such, tend to put our own health on the back burner. As Dr. Anita Skariah, an internist with UNC Health, explains “Typically we become so busy that we’re not considering our own health. Often times [women] are caring for children, grandchildren, partners and elderly family members while running households and managing careers outside of the home. So, it’s not surprising there’s little margin for self-care.”
As a woman, taking time to focus on yourself can be daunting, but it is one of the best things women can do for their minds, bodies, and legal careers. Here are a few tips to help your focus on your health:
- Listen to your body: “If you feel like something is out of the norm then you should have it checked out,” Skariah said. “Even if you think it’s such a small issue, it’s worth discussing with your provider to see if this is a sign of a bigger problem.”
- Go to the doctor: It’s extremely important to schedule an annual well visit with your primary care provider or OB/GYN. Depending on age and risk factor, women should be screened for different diseases and cancers, which your doctor can recommend each year. Unfortunately, preventative screenings dropped dramatically during the pandemic – so don’t wait any longer to resume your appointments. A screening guide is linked to the bottom of this article.
- Stay active and prioritize sleep: While this may seem daunting, exercise can be something as simple as increasing the number of steps you take in a day. Exercise and eating fresh, wholesome foods play a key role in preventing heart disease in women. Going to sleep an hour earlier can aid in your body’s overall daily recovery.
- Don’t neglect your mental health: Amid trying to take care of your body’s physical health, don’t forget to listen to your mind as well. If you’re feeling consistently overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, consider making an appointment with a therapist. Reminder: The ASB offers 5 free hours of counseling through the Lawyers Helpline: 1-800-605-8678.
To my fellow female attorneys, please consider this article a gentle reminder not to sacrifice your health and wellness for your legal career. You cannot be the best lawyer in the room if you consistently ignore your own physical wellbeing. Find an accountability partner – engage her in a daily steps challenge or weekly stress check-in. You do not have to be alone in your health and wellness journey. And please know that your worth is extraordinary!
- WRAL News: https://www.wral.com/story/go-to-the-doctor-may-is-women-s-health-month-here-s-what-women-should-know/20857273/#:~:text=May%20is%20Women’s%20Health%20Month%2C%20but%20so%20many,don’t%20prioritize%20their%20health.&text=senior%20multiplatform%20producer-,May%20is%20Women’s%20Health%20Month%2C%20but%20so%20many,don’t%20prioritize%20their%20health
- National Today – Women’s Health Care Month: https://nationaltoday.com/womens-health-care-month/#how-to
- AYLO Health – 4 Ways to Celebrate Women’s Health Month: https://aylohealth.com/blog/4-ways-to-celebrate-womens-health-month/
- Screening Tests for Women: https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/screening-tests-for-women#:~:text=Mammography%20every%20two%20years%20for,need%20to%20continue%20having%20mammograms.&text=A%20Pap%20test%20is%20recommended,5%20years%20is%20an%20option