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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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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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