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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

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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