Redefining your Health Narrative: Being an Active & Positive Participant in Your Health

One of the things we always stress to every person is their innate ability to take control of their own health story and make a positive change through their own positive mindset and activities.

It is not unusual for people to come and see a practitioner at Richmond Natural Medicine as their last resort. We welcome those individuals, and understand that when they walk in the door they often have a lengthy health story filled with confusion, unanswered questions, resentment, and understandably a sense of helplessness regarding their health and a feeling of disconnect from their own body. They have often spent years going to appointments with health concerns only to be given a pill or told what they think is a big health issue isn’t “something to worry about”. It is extremely common in western medicine to treat a symptom or disease with a specific medication or drug that doesn’t take into account the contributing or underlying factors of why a symptom is showing up in the first place. People have grown increasingly accustomed to being prescribed a pill and being sent away, feeling like if they take their pill every day that’s all they’ll need to do. Hence, being an active participant in your own healthcare and healing has gone by the wayside for the majority of people. When you don’t feel like you need to take part in your own healing journey – or you haven’t been given the confidence to know that you are the biggest influencer and facilitator of your own health – of course feelings of helplessness and disconnect become part of your health story. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Speaking from an alternative health care provider point of view, it’s very common to see people be taken aback when working towards a care plan that requires them to take an active role in their health. When we recommend lifestyle changes like conscious eating habits, physical activity, meditation, cooking practices, nutrition journaling, talk therapy or even taking a supplement or custom compounded formula more than once a day – it’s sometimes met with some confusion and hesitation. One of the things we always stress to every person is their innate ability to take control of their own health story and make a positive change through their own positive mindset and activities. We are here to educate you and help to facilitate your healing journey – but not to do the work for you. This is essential to know and understand to make your care plan a successful one. It certainly does take a change of mindset, as we have all been conditioned to rely on someone else (in healthcare) to “fix us” without doing much ourselves. As human beings, we are conditioned to feel safe when we have some sense of control. Taking back control of your health is extremely empowering, and maintaining a strong connection with your own body (which is working to help you – not hinder you), helps to redefine your health narrative to make your health story, a happy one.

Here are some actionable steps you can take if you’re feeling helpless or disconnected from your own health picture:

  1. Take some time to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Shift your focus to the areas of your body that you know you need support or improvement. Sit with no judgement – just awareness of these parts of your body.
  2. Journal it out. Make a list of things that need improvement (physical, lifestyle, emotional etc). These can be your actual symptoms, diagnoses, diet – anything you feel needs some attention.
  3. Next to each item on your list, write down one activity that you can do that you know will make an improvement. For example, if one of the items on your list is “high cholesterol”, something only you can do to improve this is to take up moderate exercise like taking a walk for 20 minute per day. If one of the items on your list is anxiety or stress, something only you can do to improve this would be to incorporate self care and joyful activity into your day such as getting a massage once a week or taking time to read, meditate, journal or spend time outside. If you don’t know what you can do to help something that’s on you list – that’s OK. That’s what we’re here to help you figure out.
  4. Take on one thing at a time. It’s very very easy for us to feel overwhelmed with how many health challenges we want to change all at once. If we try to change everything at once we’ll likely feel too overwhelmed and not change anything at all to begin with. Keeping a health plan sustainable requires slow progression over a period of time. Start with one thing for a couple of weeks, then add one something else, and then something else.
  5. Pay attention to your own health narrative. Do you ever catch yourself in negative self talk or have frequent feelings of guilt or disdain about your choices? Your mindset and health narrative is strongly tied to your health outcomes, and repeating thoughts that are positive, empowering, patient and kind will always build you up to continue rather than tear you down to sabotage yourself.

If you need additional support in any area of your health (and you’re ready to take on some of the challenges yourself and do the work), all of the practitioners here at Richmond Natural Medicine are here to help.  To speak to one of our Patient Relations Specialist about booking an appointment, call (804) 977-2634

About the Author:

Lindsay Kluge is a Clinical Herbalist & Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and received her Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine from the Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2012. She has been with Richmond Natural Medicine since 2013, and specializes in therapeutic holistic nutrition, circadian rhythm balance and sleep physiology, digestion, and Ayurvedic nutrition. She offers individualized nutrition and herbal medicine consultations that include meal planning support, custom compounded herbal formulas, nutrition guidance and general wellness support.  Learn more about services that Lindsay offers at Richmond Natural Medicine by clicking HERE.