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Self-Care Is Not Selfish

It’s Time to Put You on Your Priority List

Maybe, you think it’s indulgent. Probably, more often you tell yourself you just don’t have the time. Dr. Barbara Estes wants to remind women that self-care is just another name for taking care of yourself, which is vital to your health and well-being.

Recently, we chatted with Dr. Estes of CalvertHealth Obstetrics & Gynecology about some positive and practical steps women can take to have a healthy balance in their lives. First, you need to ask yourself when was your last well-woman exam, annual physical or any doctor appointment. If you can’t remember, she advises, the answer is probably that it was too long ago.

“We saw a lot of people put off getting their annual check-ups during the pandemic,” said Dr. Estes, “but that time is past. We’ve been calling our patients to remind them it is time to come in.”

Dr. Estes cautions against postponing cancer screenings like mammograms or colonoscopies. “Delaying these important checks can mean a delay in diagnosis and treatment.”

Equally troublesome in her mind is ignoring persistent symptoms of any kind or failing to get follow-ups for a chronic condition. She urges, “Don’t put it off, the best time to get help is now.”

Unraveling Screening Guidelines

“I can understand why people get confused when they hear about changes in the guidelines for breast and cervical cancer screenings,” said Dr. Estes. “When they read about it or see it on the news, they’re left wondering how does this affect me personally.”

The latest information on cancer screening guidelines is posted on the CalvertHealth Medical Center website. However, she advises, “There could be risk factors that could mean some women should be seen at an earlier age or more often.” The bottom line: talk to your doctor about your personal situation and your family history, which could make a big difference.

Finding a Healthy Balance

“At the end of the day, it’s all about balance,” said Dr. Estes, “and remembering that a healthy lifestyle includes making time for you.” Her colleague, Dr. Maria-Novella Papino- Higgs of CalvertHealth Primary Care in Solomons shares her top tips for strengthening your body’s natural defenses on page 14.

“I think it’s fair to say that healthy women have more energy to get through the day,” said Dr. Estes. For moms, living a healthier lifestyle and taking preventive measures means they’ll be around longer for their families. Also, kids tend to adopt their parents’ habits.

She went on to add, “A healthy weight is different for everyone but it’s important to know what a healthy weight is for you.” Overweight and obesity are areas of overwhelming concern for Calvert County, as the percent of adults who are obese is trending upward.

While good nutrition is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, physical activity is also critical. Exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women. With Calvert’s aging population on the rise, the incidence of heart disease skews higher as well, higher than state and national rates.

Although moderate physical activity such as brisk walking is safe for most people, health experts suggest you talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program. The key is finding a routine to fit your needs based on your age, stage of life and abilities.

As a working mother herself Dr. Estes understands the struggles women face trying to find “me time” in their hectic schedules. “For me, the answer was making sure I had a short commute. I live two and a half miles from the hospital.

“For others, maybe it means asking a friend to watch the kids for a few hours,” she added. “You can’t do everything. You have to shove something off your plate to have the time to take care of you.”
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