Every day we are bombarded with health-related articles and news stories – the latest diet trends; what we should and shouldn’t be eating and drinking; how, when, and where to exercise; warning signs for all kinds of deadly diseases. The list goes on and on and it can make us feel helpless and hopeless. In the end, many of us simply put down the magazine, turn off the TV or computer, and reach for another potato chip.
I’m here to tell you there is a better way to take control of your health and it doesn’t have to be a major struggle – you just need to start writing things down.
Keeping a health journal of what you eat and what you do can help you align your actions with what’s going on emotionally at the same time. Creating a holistic health journal without judgement, just the facts, is a great way to begin looking at yourself and your health in context so you can begin to realistically tackle areas that you can identify as needing improvement. This process of self-awareness can help you begin to develop a healthy relationship with yourself.
While keeping a health and wellness journal is a great self-discovery resource, from a medical standpoint, having a detailed health journal is also very helpful for pinpointing the causes of illnesses or allergies. It will also serve as a benchmark to see objectively over time how changes have affected your health and how your health and wellbeing have improved.
Regardless of your specific health issues, lifestyle, and family history, there are six fundamental steps you can take in setting up your health journal and beginning your journey to a better you:
1. Record basic health information such as weight, blood pressure, pulse rate, allergies, medications and any other basic information to provide a baseline.
2. Write as much of your family medical history as you can to help determine if there are any genetic factors that may affect your health and wellness at some point.
3. Start recording your physical and emotional state on a regular basis, including any specific aches and pains, stress levels, mental state, and possible causes of the things that are affecting you at any given moment.
4. Record responses to any situation and condition; for example, did you take medication and what kind in response to a pain? Did you binge eat after an emotional encounter? Did you avoid certain things, activities, or people after a troubling incident? Why?
5. Track medical appointments including what they were for, diagnoses, treatments and outcomes, as well as the frequency of visits or treatments.
6. Use your journal as a resource – for them and you -- when talking with mental or physical healthcare professionals.
Maintaining and referring to your health journal will help you determine what is and is not working in your whole healthcare process, including what you and your healthcare providers are doing that might be affecting you positively or negatively. Journaling will even help you get out all the mental and physical gunk by enabling you to review and analyze all emotional, physiological, and medical stuff you’ve put down on paper.
As you track things over time, such as what you’ve eaten and when, you may be surprised at how many “Aha!” moments you’ll have as you uncover traits, habits, and actions that may not have been obvious prior to starting your journal. By developing a better, more comprehensive picture of what you do and how it affects you, you’ll begin to develop a better picture of you. And that just might be the beginning of your journey to a better you.
If you want to learn tried and true methods to get control of your health, please download the free eBook titled Avoiding the 24/7 Motherhood Struggle Through Journaling.