GCI Health 08 May 2018 // 5:46PM GMT
Women today wear many hats – they’re wives, mothers, caregivers and breadwinners, often at the same time. As one of these women, I know firsthand that even when it feels like there are not enough hours in the day, we somehow manage to “make it work” and accomplish the everyday tasks that sometimes seem insurmountable. But I also know that this constant juggling can come at the cost of our own health.
I have always been passionate about women’s health and wellbeing, as are many of our staff members at GCI Health. We don’t only want to communicate a change in helping women prioritize their health, but inspire it as well. From this, the HealthiHer Project was born, bringing together GCI Health, HealthyWomen and Redbook Magazine to make HealthiHer a reality.
Our first priority for HealthiHer was to better understand how women ages 30-60 felt about their health. Our survey of over 1,000 women revealed that while 83 percent of women were happy to be managing their family’s health, a staggering 66 percent said they felt only somewhat in control of their own health. Also alarming, survey participants who said they were not making time for regular screenings reported worrying more about everything, from stress levels to eating habits to their risk for diseases like cancer. And, as we know, stress alone can have a strong negative impact on health.
Luckily, there is always a silver lining. While many survey participants said they did not feel completely in control of their own health, 79 percent said they had the power to change that. The HealthiHer movement aims to give women the tools they need to make that change, whether it’s at home, at work or in their community.
But this change cannot start and stop with individual women. The HealthiHer survey found that work was a primary barrier to taking the time needed for regular screenings and necessary healthcare. Considering May is Women’s Health Month, we at GCI Health are challenging leaders in our industry and across the business sector with a call-to-action to create workplaces that encourage wellbeing and empower women to take care of themselves. Employers have the power – and the obligation – to make these changes. Not only will it benefit their employees and their families, but it will benefit employers too – research shows that healthier and happier employees are more productive and motivated.
Building and maintaining a self-care culture at GCI Health is very important to me. As a part of HealthiHer, I am encouraging those around me to be more in tune with:
- Knowing when the little things can wait – in a fast-paced business environment, it’s easy to get caught up in project after project. Know when minor projects can “wait” so you can practice self-care, whether that means leaving the office to spend time with your family or attend a workout class. Taking time to “recharge” has shown to have positive effects on stress levels.
- Making sure women make the time for their important screenings – we all know women will never put themselves “first” but we should try for “second.” While many of us feel “well” most of the time, we tend to push off making the time for our annual prevention appointments. Women need to ensure that, just as they take their children for annual physicals, vaccines and dentist appointments, they are making the time for their yearly visits as well.
- Taking your sick days when you need them – taking a sick day with the flu or trying to get over a bad cold is imperative. Not only does your office not want to catch your germs, but without proper rest, sicknesses linger longer and you won’t be back to your fullest potential as quickly as you would if you nursed your body like you nurse everyone else’s.
- Being supportive of your colleagues and your staff – health and wellness is very personal, and needs can vary from person to person. Talk to your manager about what time or flexibility you may need to take care of yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, consider discussing with an HR team member instead.
I am dedicated to making these changes, and I hope other companies will do the same. Women, their loved ones and their employers can learn more at http://healthywomen.org/content/article/behealthiher and join Facebook discussions at https://www.facebook.com/BeHealthiHER/.
By Wendy Lund, CEO of GCI Health