Millenials. One generation that has been consistently defined by its obsessions: avocado toast, memes, Harry Potter ... and self-care. We're often perceived as entitled snowflakes (ugh), but millennials might be better defined as the generation of advanced emotional intelligence.
More millennials report making personal improvement commitments than any generation before them. Beyond slowing down and tech detoxes, we’re the generation that’s acutely aware of our physical wellbeing. Winning! However, when annual physicals and eye exams aren’t Insta-worthy we do find ourselves shying away or putting them on the back burner. This week, to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re focusing on the physical.
Women often save up questions for an annual office visit. That could mean asking whether irregularities of your period are normal, or why you're tired all the time, or what Covid means for your plans to conceive. Or maybe you're wondering whether the method of birth control you've been using is the right one for you, or why you're experiencing incontinence when you sneeze, or whether you should start mammograms in your 30s, at 40 — or earlier — if you have a family history of the disease. Lots of women have questions about their sex lives and many of us feel guilt about scheduling a visit just to touch base. If your primary aim is to chat, just say that up front. Having a relationship with your primary caregiver is more appreciated than you think.
Instead of an annual checkup, many doctors suggest that a regular "check-in" is a better idea. At a check-in, you can discuss any health concerns you have and get the limited tests and preventive screenings that are appropriate and helpful for someone of your age and risk profile. If you're young, female and feeling exhausted, for example, a complete blood cell workup might make sense to rule out anemia. And even if you don't need a physical exam, it's good to schedule periodic face-to-face discussions with your doctor about preventive care or other health concerns.
And your healthcare provider doesn’t necessarily have to be a medical doctor either. Naturopathic doctors are an option for those who would like an annual wellness exam with a strong emphasis on healthy lifestyle practices and preventive medicine in a more holistic sense.
Dental exams are another thing often overlooked. Out of sight, out of mind? According to Everyday Health, adults should be going for dental exams and cleanings every six months if possible. Your gum and dental health affects the rest of your health, something I know I definitely don’t think about.
Dr. Shalini Vettivelu filled us in on eye care earlier this year, but how often you truly need to go in and have your vision tested depends on your overall health. She recommends getting an eye exam at least every year and really eating those greens and resting your lids for optimal eye care.
No matter which primary care physician you visit, prevention is something that most providers are happy to discuss and is fairly straightforward. Many will list: sleep, movement, healthy diets, social interaction and mindfulness as the pillars of health.
We know taking responsibility for your health can be difficult. It’s hard to focus on something that seems to be working fine. If it ain’t broke...right? Wrong. Most of us spend our days in survival mode, focusing on tasks that give us instant gratification or using up all our energy caring for others. But setting health goals and following through on preventative care can lead to a sense of well-being, fulfillment and satisfaction. And, just like if you’re on an airplane, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you put it on your child. If you’re not healthy, you simply won’t have the time and the energy to make sure those around you are taken care of.
You have the ability to take control of your health. Remember: You Are Worth It.