If you own a health journal, you’re probably documenting illnesses, medications, vaccines, injuries, hospitalizations, food intake, water consumption, surgeries, and exercise routines. As important as these factors are in your health journey, there are quite a few other topics relevant to your health that aren’t documented in health journals — but they should be.
Add these lesser-known factors to your health journal to refine your path to improved health.
1. Skin Checks
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Skin diseases are among the most common of all human health afflictions and affect almost 900 million people in the world at any time.”
Common skin conditions include:
- Benign tumors
Not only should you be getting your skin checked regularly, but you should be documenting it. Even one bad sunburn can lead to skin cancer.
If you are out in the sun, especially, write it down in your health journal and document how your skin evolves. If you develop unusual moles that are asymmetric, irregular, an odd color, or expanding, this could be a sign of skin cancer. Document these changes and take your journal to your next dermatologist appointment to relay them.
In addition, note every skin check you perform on yourself and the details of your assessment.
Allergies can have a huge impact on your health journey. Allergies can keep you from enjoying the outdoors fully. They can make the indoors uncomfortable. In addition, allergy medications can have side effects like drowsiness, low blood pressure, dizziness, and dry mouth.
If you've never had them before but developed them suddenly, if you’ve had them all your life and they disappear or come about another way, it’s essential to understand what’s happening.
It’s also important to document details about your allergies because they have similar symptoms to other conditions, like dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome and allergy symptoms both include dryness, itchiness, excess watering, sensitivity to light, and eye fatigue.
However, one distinction is the level of itchiness that allergies produce over dry eye syndrome. Allergens like pollen, for example, cause histamine to be released. As a result, your eyes itch, tear up, and redden.
While most might assume they have allergies, it may not be. So, if you think it’s seasonal allergies, document when you get them, what happens, and the symptoms you have. You can then take your journal to your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
3. Family Medical History
Your family medical history should absolutely be a part of your health journal. This is because your family’s medical history can directly affect how your health unfolds.
For example, you should take stock of your family medical history to be more aware of your risk of developing breast cancer. If a woman’s mother or sister has breast cancer, it almost doubles her chance of being diagnosed. Also, these conditions can be passed down through genetics:
- Muscular dystrophy
- High cholesterol
- Sickle cell disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease
It’s important to sit down with loved ones and learn about the conditions that run in your family. Then, put them in your health journal and any other family medical history, and continue adding information as it becomes available.
4. Mental Health
Many people focus primarily on their physical health in their health journals. However, journaling about your mental health is vital. Stable mental and emotional wellness is essential to ensuring your overall health is in good shape.
When your mind isn’t well, it’s hard to focus on physical health and vice versa. So, share details about your mental health journey in your journal. Document self-diagnosed conditions as well as those that have been diagnosed by a mental health professional. Write down the medications you’re taking.
Also, talk about your experiences with therapy or counseling. Journal about the good and bad days with your symptoms. In your journal, you have the opportunity to reflect and be transparent about how seriously you’re taking your mental health. You may even come to some realizations through writing and ease your mind from overthinking.
It’s crucial to share particulars about your mood. If your mood is constantly changing, it could be a sign of something bigger.
For example, being highly irritable for an extended period of time could indicate an underlying condition like diabetes or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Or, mood swings could indicate something smaller, like a lack of sleep or being hungry.
Record how your mood changes during the day, at night, in each season, during holidays, and so forth. You’ll be able to better prepare for your mood swings if you do.
It’s a good idea to journal about the environment and how it affects your physical, mental, and emotional health. The environment can affect our health in many ways.
For instance, respiratory issues can arise due to pollutants. Climate change can make us more vulnerable to diseases. Natural disasters can unearth various chemicals, bacteria, and fungi that can harm our health.
When environmental changes happen, pay attention to how your health changes with them. Do you find yourself falling ill more often? Is your body temperature different? How is your mental health?
Relationships can have a significant impact on your health. When you’re in a healthy relationship, for example, you might be exercising regularly, eating well, and attending therapy to keep your mental health in check.
On the other hand, if you’re in an unhealthy relationship and surrounded by toxic people, chances are you’re neglecting your holistic health. The constant breaking up is probably impacting your mental and emotional stability. Likewise, drinking and being a fast food junkie with friends is ruining physical health.
So, journal about your relationships. Talk about your romantic relationships and your family relationships. Speak about how you feel about them and if your needs are being met. Be honest about their dysfunction and how the dynamic affects your overall health.
8. Professional Life
Documenting details about your professional relationships and career in your health journal can be beneficial. One’s career can impact how physically and mentally healthy they are.
For example, a stressful job can lead to burnout. A burnt-out employee lacks focus, concentration, and engagement, which can result in serious workplace injuries and safety issues.
Journaling about your professional life can help you avoid chronic stress, burnout, and workplace injuries that lead to permanent physical damage.
Keeping a health journal is essential because it can help you track your health, become an informed patient, and take charge of your healthcare.
Talk about the typical factors in your health journal and the above lesser-known factors, to stay as healthy as possible.
Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She writes about a variety of topics and spends her free time gardening.