Taking better care of ourselves may not be as easy as it sounds. Along this journey, we all need the confidence and guidance to keep going. Here are a few steps that can help empower our quest for optimum health.

Make health a priority: Empowering our health starts with actively making time, rather than trying to find it. Start by blocking time off for things like exercise, healthy cooking, journaling and good quality sleep. It will take discipline not to cut into this time for other things. Every time you are tempted, remember that you are worthy of having this time to care for yourself.

Define personal health goals: Write down your short- and long-term health goals, and be sure to express them using positive language. Share these goals with everyone on your healthcare team, especially your physician. Make a list of things you already do that support your health, and a list of things that would take you one step further. When making your long-term goals, make sure to keep your expectations realistic. Health is a journey to find physical, mental and spiritual balance, so take it in stride and celebrate your milestones along the way.

Review treatment options: Talk to your doctor about all of your treatment options. At Integrative Health, we go over different approaches to healing, along with their risks and benefits, to help our patients make informed decisions that are best for them. Together, we may choose one avenue over another, such as botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural hormone replacement or pharmaceuticals. By recognizing that there are other treatment options to move to in the future, will provide a sense of security for our patients.

Determine an effective commitment level: Regaining health can often mean making lifestyle changes. It is important to decide if you are interested in a short-term program that may address a portion of good health, or changes that will require long-term commitments for optimal health. It is important to be honest and communicate this to your physician. To address underlying causes of illness, it might require changes to your diet, daily activities, exercise routine and stress management techniques. Ask yourself what changes you are honestly willing to make, so that you can be truly committed to them.

Identify potential obstacles: The journey toward empowering health will have obstacles. By thinking about them ahead of time, we can line up the support and resources needed to succeed. To start, make a list of habits or behaviors that will have to change for your optimal health. List any barriers such as lack of time, financial resources or support. Next to each obstacle, brainstorm the tools or resources needed to successfully overcome it.

Gather your support group: We all need support as we build our new, passionate, healthy lives. Make a list of people that will fully support these new goals. Include family members, friends, your physician, and every member of your healthcare team. It’s important that each member resonates with your health goals. If someone is not positive about them, try not to rely on that person for encouragement or support. Truly supportive people will help keep you accountable, encourage regular checkups and screenings, be interested in hearing about your progress, and celebrate milestones.

Find a purpose for achieving health: What keeps us motivated and passionate about taking care of ourselves is having a purpose for achieving optimal health. Health is the foundation for everything we do. It can bring us greater joy by providing the energy to be the best parents we can be or the ability to enjoy our remaining years and play with our grandchildren. Finding a purpose and a reason to stay healthy will give us the motivation to keep going on our healing journey.

Every journey needs a guide: The doctors at Integrative Health can provide primary care or work with other health professionals as part of a healthcare team. As naturopathic doctors, we support our patients by listening to their individual needs and by taking into account the whole person – body, mind and spirit. We encourage every patient to become passionate about their health, and give them the resources and support they need to succeed.

Article authored by Dr. Adrienne Stewart, Integrative Health