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10 Ways to be a Better Patient

10 Ways to be a Better Patient

Studies have shown that only 6 percent of doctors are happy with their profession. A lot of their issues can be attributed to health insurance red tape, but it is also important to note that patients have a big impact on their daily morale. Fortunately, people who take the time to become better patients can improve their own health, get better results from each appointment and help their physician have a more satisfactory job experience.

1. Make a List of Symptoms/Complaints

The average appointment lasts a maximum of 15 minutes, so it may not be possible for your doctor to answer an extensive list of questions. However, going into the office without having an organized list of symptoms, complaints and questions will make the entire process even less efficient. Sadly, this means that your odds of getting the right diagnosis and any applicable medication will plummet. To avoid this, write everything down in advance so that you are prepared to quickly and accurately report your issues.

2. Research Procedures to Put Yourself at Ease

Medical procedures such as MRI, EMG and Nerve Conduction tests may seem intimidating, especially if you are not aware of how they work. To help relieve this tension, you can ask your physician for some printed materials regarding the procedure at hand. It is also easy to find additional details online about everything from how a TeleEMG machine works to what you can expect from a colonoscopy.

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Ultimately, the goal is to obtain enough education to set your mind at ease so that you are not extremely nervous when your appointment begins.

3. Be Accountable for Your Healthcare Needs

Your primary care physician and any specialists you visit are all part of your healthcare team, but you are the most integral piece. After all, your doctor cannot treat issues that you fail to tell him or her about, and they also cannot force you to do vital things such as take your medication as prescribed. Instead of waiting for a physician to fix something that has gone horribly wrong, you should become accountable for your healthcare needs in order to prevent most issues in the first place.

4. Answer Every Question Truthfully

At least 23 percent of patients lie to their doctor, and this is a major issue that can prevent you from getting the care that you need. Surveys have shown that people misrepresent the facts because they are afraid of being judged. However, if your physician makes you feel judged, it is better to find a new doctor than to continue lying. Keep in mind that each question you answer truthfully will get you closer to receiving the information you need to improve your health.

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5. Research Your Condition and Help Point Your Doctor in the Right Direction

Some doctors may resist the idea that their patients have been able to find answers by looking up their symptoms online, but it is still wise to research your condition. After all, a primary care physician cannot possibly know everything, and the information you provide may make a major difference in your healthcare. This is especially true for lesser known conditions or medical issues that are commonly misdiagnosed as something else such as female autism.

6. Exercise and Eat a Balanced Diet to Remove Minor Health Complaints

Studies have shown that physical inactivity is responsible for almost 17 percent of all deaths, and an unhealthy diet can lead to a long list of health complications, including type 2 diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. Stress is also known to cause at least 60 percent of all doctor visits, but this is something that can be reduced by walking for a mere 30 minutes a day and eating a balanced diet. Taking these two steps is one of the best ways to prevent major health issues and to eliminate minor existing problems.

7. Take Your Doctor’s Time Seriously

Most patients are unhappy with the amount of time they wait for their appointment to begin, but this is not a one-sided issue. In fact, many physicians have reported that patients who come late are the major reason that their entire schedule gets off track. Therefore, it is always best to arrive at least 5 minutes before your appointment time, and you should get there 15 minutes early if you have to fill out new patient paperwork. If everyone did this, we would all have more timely start times, and we would also have more time to ask questions.

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8. Follow Through on Your Doctor’s Advice

Again, your physician cannot force you to take medication or to follow their advice. However, if you do not follow through on the tips that they provide, you will merely further derail your health. If a doctor says something that seems very odd or wrong to you, make sure to ask questions or to seek a second opinion. Otherwise, follow their advice so that you can begin to feel better.

9. Keep a Health Journal

A personal health journal, which is also referred to as a health diary, is a great way to track everything that has a positive or negative impact on your body. For example, writing down what you eat and how you feel 30 to 60 minutes later will make it much easier to identify a food sensitivity.

Additionally, keeping a journal will help you stay on track with things that make your physical and mental health improve, including exercising. As an added bonus, your doctor will be able to get a better understanding of your health issues if you track everything diligently.

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10. Incorporate Any Applicable Complementary Alternative Medicine Therapies

Many physicians have begun prescribing daily walks and even adult coloring to their patients, and it is also becoming increasingly common for them to recommend a complementary alternative medicine (CAM) such as massage therapy.

Extensive medical studies have found that massage can relieve headaches, depression, chronic pain and the symptoms of PTSD. Acupuncture is another option that might be suggested for pain management and headaches. Combining a CAM therapy with regular medical care is often the best way to deal with chronic conditions.

Other ways that you can become a better patient include treating your doctor with respect and getting enough sleep every night. After all, insomnia can be worse for you than a high-fat diet, so make sure that you take steps to improve your sleep quality. Following all of these tips can improve your health and give you a better patient-doctor relationship.

Featured photo credit: Wesley Wilson via pexels.com

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Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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