We’re about to start a new year, and that always leads people to start thinking more about their health and wellness.
One goal that you could have for the new year is that you’re more empowered about your health overall. That means you get the necessary treatments, including preventative care, you make changes to your lifestyle if necessary, and you’re an active participant in your care as a patient.
Luckily, with technology’s impact on healthcare, it’s easier than ever before to be empowered and informed.
Below, we specifically discuss some ways you can empower yourself and take charge of your well-being in the new year.
Learn More About Your Personal Health Risks
There are certain things that people can be at risk of than the general population, so dig a bit into your family’s medical history. Learn about your parents’ and grandparents’ history with any health issues so that you can start taking steps now for the appropriate screenings and prevention.
You might also have personal health risks related to your age, a lifestyle factor, or some other genetic consideration.
Being empowered means that you don’t run away from learning more about your health risks. Instead, you learn about them in an in-depth way, so you can be proactive in all ways about your health.
You can also take a health risk assessment if you aren’t sure where to start. These assessments are typically free and take only a few minutes to complete. You answer questions about your personal and also family health history, and then you should get a report about your risk factors personalized to you.
This will help drive your conversations with your doctor at your next appointment.
Write Questions Down
Speaking of talking to your doctor, any time a question comes to mind about your health, the treatment you’re taking, or anything else, write it down. Then, you can bring it with you for your next doctor’s appointment.
If you’re experiencing changes in how you feel, or certain symptoms, write these down as well.
Never be afraid to ask questions, and if you are, it might mean that your care providers aren’t the right ones for you.
Use Your Patient Portals
Patient portals are one of the best ways to take more control of your health and medical care. Your patient portal is where to visit summaries, and test results are going to be uploaded. If you have questions or things you want to specifically discuss with your doctor, you can use your patient portal to help you.
Patient portals also offer features so you can directly message your care team, request renewals for prescriptions, and schedule appointments.
You have to feel your best. There’s no way to have mental or physical health without feeling your best, and that requires self-care.
You can find whatever types of self-care resonate with you, but these are an important part of being empowered about your health care.
As part of self-care, stress management is important too. Stress has a huge impact on all aspects of your health.
Prioritize stress management strategies in your daily life. Ideas include journaling, deep breathing exercises, listening to music, or reading.
Going outside for a walk or even just sitting in the sun is a stress management strategy.
Another way to practice self-care is to meditate. Along with helping reduce your stress, meditating can strengthen your mind and help you manage any symptoms you may be experiencing related to chronic conditions you deal with.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
The things you do in your life daily are going to help you feel stronger, mentally and physically.
You should stay hydrated by starting every day with a glass of water. Make time to move your body in some meaningful way every single day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
You also need to prioritize eating well and getting adequate sleep.
Manage Chronic Conditions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 60% of American adults have a chronic health condition. Around 40% of Americans have two or more. Chronic conditions are a leading cause of disability and also death in the United States and are a reason for soaring healthcare costs.
When you have a chronic condition, it can feel like you’re helpless. The reality is you can learn how to manage your symptoms, and you can retake control of your life.
Some medical and healthcare organizations even offer self-management programs for chronic diseases.
You can do these programs online and learn how to make decisions about your health, communicate effectively with everyone in your life, including not only health professionals but friends and family, and deal with some of the things that can come along with a chronic condition like pain, fatigue, or isolation.
Listen to Your Gut
Unfortunately, in healthcare settings, it’s easy for patients to feel like they’re getting steamrolled. You might feel like your healthcare provider is the expert, so if they are ignoring symptoms that you’re telling them about or they’re minimizing what you’re experiencing, you might feel like they’re right.
The reality is that medical gaslighting can and does happen.
There are too many stories, especially involving women, who told their healthcare provider about their symptoms, and they were disregarded or minimized.
You know your health and your body better than anyone. If you’re having symptoms you know aren’t right, or something feels off, and your care provider won’t listen to you or won’t take it seriously, find someone who will.
If your gut instinct is telling you there’s an issue, there’s a very high likelihood that’s true. Whatever that issue is, needs to be fully explored.
Any time you don’t feel confident with your health care provider, or you feel as if they aren’t listening to you, this is a problem. Even if your symptoms turn out to be nothing, if you don’t feel like you’re receiving the right testing or care, find another provider.