As we approach the New Year, we tend to think about ways we can improve our lives and be healthier. Even if we don’t make formal resolutions, there are simple ways we can aim to lead a healthier life.
Your mental health
Do a quick mental check on how you are feeling. Women with PCOS or who are going through infertility treatment are at a higher risk for developing depression. If you are feeling sad or hopeless, or have noticed other physical signs of depression (lack of appetite, overeating, feeling more tired then usual or insomnia), make an appointment to see a psychologist or therapist. Even if you just feel that you’ll benefit from having someone impartial to talk to, make an appointment.
If you’re not sure how to find one, you can ask your obstetrician or reproductive endocrinologist for a referral. There are therapists who specialize in treating women with infertility or other reproductive disorders and who can be especially helpful in teaching you to deal with your depression or anxiety.
Many women tend to put this off, thinking that once they’re pregnant, they’ll feel better. But pregnancy can exacerbate depression because of the associated hormonal changes. In addition, many women who suffered with infertility report feeling guilty at not enjoying their pregnancy when they tried so hard to become pregnant. Be proactive in treating depression so that you have a healthier and happier pregnancy.
Did you know that some studies have shown that when you don’t sleep well, your body releases hormones that make you feel hungrier? The purpose of those hormones is to get you to consume more calories and get more energy. Even though this adaption isn’t really useful anymore, we can still use it to our advantage. Knowing that adequate sleep is crucial to having a healthy, normal appetite, make it a priority to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
So many people make a commitment to exercise regularly, give it their all for a day or two, and then stop all forms of activity until the next year. This isn’t the healthiest way to do things and we should instead focus on making small lifetime changes. Start by just taking a walk every day, even if only for 15 minutes or just around the block. Focus on making the activity a habit before thinking about increasing the intensity or distance. Once you have established that unbreakable habit, the rest will follow and be much easier to maintain. Your goal should be lasting change, not super intense exercise periodically.
There are a lot of steps we can take to better our diet, but it can be overwhelming, and impossible to maintain, if we try to make all of those changes at once. For now, focus on drinking more water, or less soda and juice. Or try to cut back on processed meats or refined sugar, or even just focus on adding vegetables to your diet. Little changes will eventually add up to big ones, but it’s more important that we stick with them.
Okay, this one is a biggie. Smoking is a terrible habit – it’s bad for your heart and lungs. Women with PCOS are significantly more likely to develop heart disease over the course of their lifetime. Why do something that’s only going to worsen that risk? If you need help quitting, check in with your doctor or check out a local smoking cessation program. You can also check out About.com Smoking Cessation site for additional support and information.