Women are often pulled in many directions. Aging parents, work, children and home responsibilities take away from finding time to take care of themselves. While it is easy to put everyone else’s needs before her own, it’s time for women to take charge of their health and follow these steps to live a happier, healthier life.“Get an annual physical exam,” says Dr. Amber Hyde, an independently practicing family medicine physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. “An annual physical exam is a good time to get back in touch with yourself and prioritize what is important. This is also a time to screen for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, anxiety and depression, skin cancer, breast cancer and other health conditions. Early detection is key to treatment.” Exercise. Physical activity helps to reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. It reduces stress and depression, increases energy, and helps you attain and maintain a healthy body weight.“If you don’t exercise now, put on a pair of sneakers and take a short walk down the street and back today,” recommends Hyde. “Walk around the building while kids participate in their activities.”You are the one setting the example for your family, and those are the lessons they will take with them for their lifetime.Hyde suggests at least 30 minutes of exercise three or four times a week.“Stretch and warm up before you exercise to avoid injuries, and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated,” she says.Physical activity also helps you sleep better, lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and improves overall health.Eat healthy. A well-balanced diet proves more effective over the long term than the latest and greatest fad diet or supplement.“The calories you take in (eat) versus the calories you burn off (exercise) equals your weight. It’s a simple equation,” explains Hyde. “Some women say, ‘But I don’t eat that much.’ Did you know that eating just 100 extra calories a day will cause you to gain 10 pounds in a year?”One pound is 3,500 calories. Hyde recommends using a smart phone app such as Lose It! or web pages like myfitnesspal.com and livestrong.com to find out how many calories you should consume. Then track your progress.Learn to say “no” and prioritize. Make time for what is important and avoid a frantic over-committed schedule.“Say ‘yes’ to what you want to do and ‘no’ to what you’d rather avoid,” Hyde says. “No need to make excuses or explain why you can’t or don’t want to do something. Be grateful you have been asked to participate and don’t feel guilty about your response.”For every time you agree to a committee or project, you are essentially denying time with family, to exercise or downtime to renew.Avoid risky behaviors and stop smoking.“Lung cancer kills more people in the U.S. than any other cancer. It is a horrible disease that robs your body of oxygen and life,” says Hyde.Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day doubles your risk of heart attack and stroke.“I often tell patients ‘It’s not dying of a heart attack or stroke that I worry about. It’s living with one,’” she says.Pay attention to your mental health. Good mental hygiene is an important part of a woman’s overall health.“Stress, anger and other emotions can affect your body physically,” Hyde says. “Recurrent headaches, fatigue, heart palpitations, stiff neck and shoulders, irregular bowel habits and frequent pain or illnesses may be a sign that you need help.”Be candid with your physician if you think anxiety or depression may be contributing to your symptoms. These emotions can deplete vital neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine in your body, but it can be treated with medications that are nonaddictive and non-habit forming.“A low serotonin or norepinephrine level is no different than, for example, iron-deficiency anemia. We need to replete our body of these substances to restore us to maximal health,” Hyde explains.Make a promise to yourself and your family to take steps toward a healthier life today. It’s your time! Let summer be a reflection of your good health.Take a break and enjoy a mommy makeover while taking steps to a healthier you at Mommy MD, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on May 4 at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. Hear from actress Andie MacDowell by video, then listen to health experts from Methodist Mansfield discuss the latest issues and trends. There will also be chair massage, light spa cuisine, giveaways and more. Lipid profile and blood glucose screenings will be offered for only $20 during the week prior to the event, with results available at the Saturday event. Register today and make your health a top priority.Register at 877-637-4297 or visit www.MethodistHealthSystem.org/MommyMD.Lipid profile and blood glucose screenings will be offered for $20 (cash or check) at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center from 6:30-11 a.m. April 29-May 2.Health screening are open to anyone 18 years or older. Check in at the surgery/diagnostic desk. Results will be available at the event. A 10-hour fast prior to your blood test is required for accurate results. Caffeinated drinks may produce inaccurate results. No appointment is necessary. Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System or Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.