Do you have a health journal? A place to record the significant changes, milestones, and events that directly (or indirectly) impact your health and well-being?
This article walks you through the process of creating your own personal health journal, so you can support your health in a more holistic way.
What is a Health Journal?
A health journal is a written record of anything related to your health. It might include a list of your health goals, a detailed account of any health-related symptoms you’ve been experiencing, or a series of journal entries that help you untangle your fears and worries about your heath.
Simply put, a health journal is a personal diary that helps you summarize all of the health-related experiences you have throughout your life.
And the best part is, there are no rules when it comes to format. You get to choose what’s important and what isn’t.
3 Reasons to Keep a Health Journal
Keeping a personalized account of your health matters helps you connect with your inner guidance system. This level of intuitive “knowing” will enable you to recognize potential health concerns much sooner.
Journaling offers a practical way for you to have a dialogue with yourself in an open, honest way. It allows you to become curious about what’s happening in your body, giving you deeper insights about why and how your body responds to the demands that are placed on it.
Here are 3 reasons to keep a health journal:
1. It’s portable.
Physical journals are portable, which means you can bring it along with you to doctor’s appointments and medical procedures. Your journal offers a place to take notes, helping you to remember new medical terms and details about treatment options. And unlike internet-based
portals and platforms, you don’t need an internet connection to access your journal, which means you’ll never have to remember a username and password.
2. It helps you organize your health records.
If you have multiple doctors or interact with multiple healthcare systems, you probably also have multiple electronic health records. This can make it difficult to navigate your health information. By keeping key pieces of health information in your journal, however, it will be easier to find key details when time matters.
3. It connects you with your intuition.
Journaling helps connect you with your intuition. The therapeutic process of deciphering your thoughts onto the pages of your journal can help you uncover key details that may even lead you to the source of your discomfort.
Things to Include in Your Health Journal
Here are some things to consider including in your health journal:
Maintain a list of the symptoms that you are currently experiencing by creating a symptom journal. Be sure to record your experiences as soon as possible so you don’t forget subtle details. Collect key information, such as the time of day, what you were doing prior to the onset of symptoms, and anything you feel is significant about the experience.
If your symptoms involve pain or discomfort, consider using a rating on a scale. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest), rate the severity of your symptoms. This will give you a reference point, making it easier to evaluate changes over time.
Log your health-related numbers:
- Lab test results
- Health goals/targets
- Hours of sleep
- Minutes of physical activity
- Blood pressure
- Other biometrics that includes a number
Viewing your health metrics in one place can help you see patterns and changes more clearly. These insights can help you make informed decisions about your health.
Keep a running list of important dates:
- Doctor’s appointments
- Dates of symptoms
- Medical procedures
- Due dates (immunizations, health screenings, repeat labs, etc.)
If you’ve ever struggled to recall details about your medical history, keeping records in your journal can help.
Keep track of any prescribed or over-the-counter medications you are taking to manage your health. Keep a simple running list of all of your medications, along with the date they were first prescribed. You may also want to consider logging any symptoms you experienced after starting or stopping a medication.
Similar to medications, supplements can also play a role in your heath, and some can even lead to expected and unexpected symptoms. These details can be helpful resources to your healthcare team as they help you choose the best treatment options for you.
If your health goals involve nutrition, it may be useful to keep a food journal. Keeping detailed records of the foods you eat can help you uncover vital clues about food sensitivities, habits and patterns related to your food choices, and other factors related to nourishing your body.
With so much attention focused on physical health physical health, it’s easy to overlook other areas of your well-being. Mental health is an equally important element that can also have a direct impact on your physical health.
After all, your mood directly impacts your behaviors, and even the seemingly insignificant habits can influence your health over time. For example, if your mental health needs are not met you may find it difficult to support other areas of your life, such as preparing healthy meals, getting enough physical activity, or tending to your preventive health care needs.
Most traditional health records include numbers-based details about your physical health, but few take into account how you feel about what’s happening inside your body.
Your personal health journal can also become an outlet for the wide range of feelings you experience. For example, receiving concerning test results or a new diagnosis can lead to feelings of fear and overwhelm. When those feelings bubble up, having a safe place to release them is vital. Your journal can help you process distressing information and help you make sense of it.
You can also use your journal to keep a running list of questions to ask your health care team. Questions may include how to know when to seek medical attention, how a specific treatment works, or what to expect as a health condition progresses. Having a place to “park” your questions can also help you manage anxiety and worry.
Creating a personal health journal can help you better manage your health in a number of different ways.
Journaling helps you explore your health more holistically, tapping into your intuition to recognize when something needs your attention.
Is it time to create a health journal of your own?
Learn more about how to journal for the health of it in Mari’s book Mindset Medicine.
Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as providing or replacing medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Author bio: STACY FISHER, RDN, LD, CDCES is the founder of LivingUpp, a lifestyle design company that teaches women how to use a self-care planning system to create more ease and better health.
She is a registered dietitian and lifestyle coach with 20+ years of experience in the healthcare industry, where she’s worked with large companies such as Dell, Boeing, and Nike. Stacy is the author of The Lifestyle Design Planner, a flexible life organizer for high-achievers who value self-care and simplicity.