Don’t forget to ‘fit your own oxygen mask first’ – we must make ‘me time’ in our increasingly busy lives

11 March 2020 | Healthy living

Jaqui Walker, Advanced Nurse PractitionerJaqui Walker, Advanced Nurse Practitioner/General Practice Nurse, shares the benefits of the WCRF Women’s Health Guide for both health professionals and everyday women.

Having worked as a general practice nurse for 15 years, I'm really pleased to read this very accessible, practical and informative guide to women’s health. It’s got something for everyone, covering important lifestyle advice relevant throughout our life as well as having a specific focus on certain stages, including pregnancy and menopause.

How the guide encourages change

I find the way the guide builds a compelling argument as to why we should consider making changes to our lifestyle really helpful. By presenting clear evidence of cancer risk in connection with different modifiable lifestyle factors, it gives encouragement around the small changes we can all be making as women to improve our health. In this way the guide is encouraging, like a friend nudging you gently towards better choices.

Walking the dogs and cleaning the house

In the guide there is a great quiz and I was fairly relieved to find I scored mostly healthy ‘As’. I’m always active with dogs, kids, a house to clean and a busy job with a long corridor to walk up and down, and I do eat healthy food – just too much of it! I can, however, see areas for improvement particularly those Friday night pre-dinner drinks and snacks while we cook, which can be fun but very calorie dense! In order to increase my intake of vegetables, I will try to swap the snacks for vegetable sticks. I also plan to incorporate some strengthening exercises into my routine and I feel this may be enough to tip me back into a healthy weight band. As I'm in my 50s now, I know these lifestyle changes will help to soften the impact of the menopause.

Reducing cancer risk

The guide is also really useful in that it highlights not only the importance of screening for different cancers but also clearly points out which symptoms to present to your health clinic with. It’s really important that these ‘red flags’, as we call them, are made common knowledge, ensuring cancers are detected at an earlier and potentially more treatable stage.

There is a wide range of lifestyle advice in the booklet such as how to stay active, what a balanced diet looks like and ways to maintain a healthy weight. These can all have a big impact on our cancer risk as well as our risk of developing other long-term conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Following the advice in the guide could have a very positive impact on a woman’s health.

Signposting to health information

General practice is getting busier all the time but it’s important we don’t forget health promotion. We need quick and easy-to-access resources that can help people make the changes they wish to make to improve their health outcomes. I'll be signposting women to this booklet as a useful, motivating and practical guide for lifestyle change.

Jaqui Walker | 11 March 2020