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Healing Steps to Empower Health and Wellness: Taking better care of ourselves is a journey, says Dr. Adrienne Stewart

Nov 04, 2012 11:44AM ● By Adrienne Stewart, NMD

Taking better care of ourselves may not be as easy as it sounds. Along this journey, we all need the confidence and guidance to keep going. Here are a few steps that can help us empower our quest for optimum health.

Make health a priority: Empowering our health starts with actively making time, rather than trying to find it. Start by blocking time off for things like exercise, healthy cooking, journaling and good quality sleep. It will take discipline not to cut into this time for other things. Every time you are tempted, remember that you are worthy of having this time to care for yourself.

Define personal health goals: Write down short- and long-term health goals, and be sure to express them using positive language. Share these goals with everyone on your healthcare team, especially your physician. Make a list of things you already do that support your health, and a list of things that would take you one step further. When making long-term goals, be sure to keep expectations realistic. Health is a journey to find physical, mental and spiritual balance, so take it in stride and celebrate the milestones along the way.

Review treatment options: Talk to a doctor about treatment options. Naturopathic doctors often go over different approaches to healing, along with their risks and benefits, to help patients make informed decisions that are best for them. Together, they may choose one avenue over another, such as botanical medicine, homeopathy or pharmaceuticals. Recognizing that there are other treatment options to move to in the future gives patients a sense of security.

Determine an effective commitment level: Regaining health can often mean making lifestyle changes. It is important to decide if you are interested in a short-term program that may address a portion of good health, or changes that will require long-term commitments for optimal health. It is important to be honest and communicate this to the physician. To address underlying causes of illness, it might require changes to diet, daily activities, exercise routine and stress management techniques. Ask yourself what changes you are honestly willing to make, so that you can be truly committed to them.

Identify potential obstacles: The journey toward empowering health will have obstacles. By thinking about them ahead of time, we can line up the support and resources needed to succeed. To start, make a list of habits or behaviors that will have to change for your optimal health. List any barriers such as lack of time, financial resources or support. Next to each obstacle, brainstorm the tools or resources needed to successfully overcome it.

Gather a support group: We all need support as we build our new, passionate, healthy lives. Make a list of people that will fully support these new goals. Include family members, friends, your physician and every member of your healthcare team. It's important that each member resonates with your health goals. If someone is not positive about them, try not to rely on that person for encouragement or support. Truly supportive people will help keep you accountable, encourage regular checkup and screenings, be interested in hearing about progress and celebrate milestones.

Find a purpose for achieving health: What keeps us motivated and passionate about taking care of ourselves is having a purpose for achieving optimal health. Health is the foundation for everything we do. It can bring us greater joy by providing the energy to be the best parents we can be or the ability to enjoy our remaining years and play with our grandchildren. Finding a purpose and a reason to stay healthy will give us the motivation to keep going on our healing journey.

Every journey needs a guide: Naturopathic doctors can provide primary care or work with other physicians as part of a healthcare team. Many support their patients by listening to their individual needs and by taking into account their whole person—body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Adrienne Stewart is a naturopathic physician practicing at Integrative Health, in Scottsdale, where she empowers women who are struggling with the menstrual cycle, considering having a baby, or going through menopause.  For more information, visit MyIntegrativeHealth.com.

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