Be good to yourself, and pledge to be a "well woman." (Jose Luis Palaez Inc.)

Be good to yourself, and pledge to be a “well woman.” (Jose Luis Palaez Inc.)

This weekend celebrate National Women’s Health Week by making your health your first priority. This annual event is the National Institute of Health’s way of reminding us to take great care of ourselves. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), that may be easier than ever for millions of women.

Being a “well woman” means getting an annual check up to protect yourself from the chronic health issues that so often harm black women. Under the ACA, millions of women are now eligible to get this medical exam for free even if you have the same insurer that you had before the law passed. That’s an important change since studies show that 1 in 3 women and a disproportionately large number of black women avoid annual doctor visits because of the cost.

First, take the pledge. Look over this simple list of tips for safeguarding your health. Then, take a few minutes this weekend to make an appointment and plan your well woman check up. Your visit should include opportunities to:

Get screened. Your provider should check your cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and conduct other important tests for sexually transmitted diseases and other health risks. You should also talk about vaccinations. Look over this complete list of screenings to see what tests you should have at what age.

Have the conversation. Your well woman visit is an excellent time to discuss family health history and health risks that may concern you. Use My Family Health History, a free online tool created by the U. S. Surgeon General, to help you keep track of your possible health risks.

Explore the mind-body connection. Even though you will see your physician, you should talk about any mental health concerns you have as well. Living with depression and anxiety can also affect your heart health, your ability to maintain a healthy weight, and your blood pressure, among other things. If you’ve been going through a tough time, tell your doctor and ask for a referral to a mental health professional.

Get a fresh start. Ask your doctor for advice about setting new health goals for the coming years. She or he should help you establish new objectives for getting or staying active and improving your diet.

About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being

We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.

To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.