Taking Charge of Your Health

By Beth O’Hara

I have personally dealt with chronic health issues for more than twenty-five years have made significant progress in healing. Many people ask me about what has made the biggest difference. More important than any specific treatments have been my outlook and perception about my health. In this article, I highlight some of the foundational factors to healing which have made significant differences in my own healing and for those who I have coached in my holistic health coaching practice.

 1.    Take Responsibility for your Healthcare

One of the most important keys to my personal healing has been shifting my relationship to healing from expecting others to be responsible for my health to taking personal responsibility for my own health.

The vast majority of people have a hierarchical doctor-patient relationship where they believe the doctor is responsible for the patient getting well. In actuality, people who take personal responsibility for their health, research their symptoms and treatments, and implement steps for their own healing have the best outcomes. I encourage my clients to utilize their health care providers as advocates rather than ultimate authorities. Why is this so important? Because no matter how well trained or well-intentioned your health care providers are, no one can understand your health and your body as well as you can.

Furthermore, many doctors are overworked and may not have time to pursue the latest research on conditions and treatments. Additionally, information taught in medical schools can lag behind current research as much as ten to twenty years. Patients now have access to a wealth of information through books and online. With so much information available, it is essential doctors and patients work together to solve health issues.

I am not saying do not rely on your practitioner’s advice. I encourage you to consult with your health care providers. What I am suggesting is you see yourself as a team with your health practitioners. Learn about the problems you are having, possible treatments, and ways to manage symptoms. Research your options and bring them in for discussion with your providers.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in healing is this:  taking an active role in your health care can make all the difference.

 2.    Resiliency

As important as personal responsibility is resiliency. People who are resilient bounce back much better from health issues and crisis. Supporting resiliency includes:

  • Reminding yourself to stay optimistic even when things are difficult
  • Managing your fears with self-awareness and meditation
  • Dedicating your life to something greater than yourself
  • Finding meaning and purpose
  • Nurturing a strong social network
  • Finding role models who have managed and healed from similar health concerns
  • Staying connected to my mind, heart, and body through spiritual practices

An excellent read on resiliency is Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges by Southwick and Charney.

 3.    There is no one size fits all solution

I learned this lesson through a lot of hard lessons and heartbreak. More times than I like to remember, tried and true treatments have not worked for me. This often was either because either the diagnosis was incorrect or I had reactions to the recommended supplements or medications. 

What works for others may or may not work for you. This is another reason why taking responsibility for your health is so important. When prescribed treatments do not work, maybe something else will work for you. With the wealth of information online, there is always the possibility that you can find other options.

 4.    Keep a list of what works and what doesn’t

Keep track of how things affect you so you can go back to your list of things that work and which do not work when you are not feeling well.

I have a closet full of supplements and medications I reacted too. Now that I know my triggers, I usually research the ingredients on everything before I take it. I recently neglected to research a new medication and had an uncomfortable reaction to it. When I called the pharmacy, I found out this compound had a preservative I already knew was a problem for me. I could have saved myself a lot of discomfort and time by checking ahead of time.

This also applies to non-medications as well. How do you feel after massage? After exercise? With chiropractic adjustments? Acupuncture?

When you feel well, it is easy to forget how things affected you in the past. Keeping a list will give you a list of possibilities for when you are not well. Also, keep in mind this list may change as your body changes, so keep updating it with new information.

 5.    Lifestyle changes and Self-Care

Learn how diet, types of exercise, and meditation can support your health. Lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to your health, and again there is no one size fits all solution. A low carb diet may work great for some people and may make others worse. For many, running is a wonderful form of exercise, but for those with chronic fatigue or joint issues, slower paced movements work better.

Taking charge of your healthcare involves taking charge of the factors that affect your health. In addition to physical factors, lifestyle changes and self-care also include your emotional, mental, and spiritual life. How you treat your body and how you allow others t treat you all have a direct impact on your well-being.

 6.    One Step at a Time

The number of things you could change to improve your health can seem monumental. Do not overwhelm yourself with personal care.  Take small chunks at a time, and see your personal care as an ongoing lifelong process rather than a five-minute sprint.

If you are overwhelmed with how to make these shifts, you could employ a health advocate or health coach to assist you in navigating your health care terrain.

If you are interested in health coaching, you are welcome to contact me for a complimentary fifteen-minute consultation to see if health coaching is a good fit for you.

Take good care of yourself and your body will thank you!

 

Beth O’Hara is a Holistic Health and Life Coach, Iyengar Yoga Teacher, and Certified Enneagram Teacher residing in Cincinnati, OH. She has her Bachelor’s in Physiological Psychology and is currently working on her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her listening skills, empathy and intuition make her a compassionate, effective and gifted coach and teacher. She is experienced in working with clients to transform areas that include health and wellness, relationships, self-understanding, self-esteem, and life balance.

 

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