Do you have nagging little health problems that get you down sometimes? Perhaps you struggle with something bigger, or perhaps all you want is to take control of your hormones once and for all.
You’re not alone! Nearly half of all American adults have a chronic illness, and about one-fourth of chronically ill adults are limited in their activities by their condition (source).
Whether your health problems are big or small, you can take control of them. Your job as homemaker is too important to be side-tracked by your health, and you are too important to be feeling icky and out of control of your own body.
I have struggled with rheumatoid arthritis, Graves disease (hyperthyroidism), and hypothyroidism (as a result of Graves disease treatment) for the past several years. I have had some hard times—times when I feel terrible, times when I don’t feel like I can get anything done, times when life feels exhausting.
I have found several practices that help empower me and get back on track again. I hope that they may help someone else as much as they have helped me.
10 Ways to Take Control of Your Health:
1. Read up on your condition. I felt helpless and mentally paralyzed by my rheumatoid arthritis until I checked out a library book on my condition. I had been afraid to go back to the doctor, but after I read the book I felt empowered and informed. It made a huge difference! Look for a book from a reputable source, such as the Mayo Clinic.
2. Start a health diary. Write about how you feel. Write what works and what doesn’t. Record behaviors that trigger your condition. Not only will it feel good to get it all down on paper (or virtual paper!), you will be able to refer to your record down the road. No, you will not remember everything five years from now! I can look back at my record and see which drugs made me feel terrible; which alternative therapies helped (or didn’t), and what makes me feel worse. I’m lucky enough to have years between flare-ups sometimes, so keeping a record is doubly important to me, as I don’t think about my condition much between times.
3. Come prepared to your appointments. Have a list of all medications and supplements you are currently taking, including dosages. Write down any questions or concerns you’d like to ask about: it’s easy to be distracted or forget during your appointment.
4. Pay attention to your diet. While I usually can’t control my arthritis by diet alone, I have found that certain foods can make it worse (sugar, anyone?). Your research and your doctor may reveal foods that can help—or worsen—your condition. Try them and record your results in your health diary. What works for some people may or may not work for you, so pay attention to how you feel.
5. Watch out for the big four. According to the CDC, these four behaviors are the most common among Americans that can trigger or worsen chronic disease: (1) lack of physical activity, (2) poor diet, (3) smoking, and (4) drinking (source).
6. Rest. I wish I could remember where I read it, but I read once that no pain was so bad that a nap wouldn’t help you feel better. And you know what? It’s true. Take time to rest when you’re not feeling well.
7. Research and experiment. Write down questions you have about your condition. Read up on the answers. I can guarantee you will find a lot of conflicting information, especially if you do research on the internet. Start trying things, and record whether they work. If they don’t, move on and try something else. You will find something that works for you!
8. Don’t be afraid to see a doctor. At one point, I was desperately hoping I would be able to control my arthritis through diet and lifestyle changes. I was afraid of the medications I would have to take if I saw the doctor, having had a bad experience a few years previously. If you are able to control your condition yourself, that is a wonderful thing and I am happy for you. But if, like me, you can’t, please do yourself a favor and take the next step. My doctor was able to offer me treatments and drugs that offered me my life back. For me, diet could help or hinder, but I needed something more, and I’m glad I finally found the courage to move forward.
9. Pray. Want to know how I found the strength to go back to the doctor and try again? Prayer. Finding that God wanted me to move forward with treatment gave me the courage to go back to the doctor and seek help.
10. Decide to take control. Are you going to let your condition control you, or are you going to take control of your condition? You may not be able to control your pain level, or how your hormones make you feel, but you can control the way you react. Tired all the time? Don’t feel that you have to run marathons, be PTA president, and bake all your own bread from scratch. Modify your schedule to allow yourself time for activities that help you feel better (rest, exercise, meditation, etc.). Do you feel fine most of the time, but occasionally have bad days? Plan for them. Keep a few dinners in the freezer and stay caught up on your work so your home won’t be a disaster if you take a day or two off.
Do you suffer from health problems? Do they interfere with your daily life? What tips do you have for taking control?
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