Keeping a personal health journal or diary can be a good way of keeping track of your important health information and can be an instrumental tool when trying to diagnose a health problem.
Journaling can have many health benefits. A 2006 article in Psych Central says that journaling can have many benefits, including helping you to
- clarify your thoughts and feelings.
- know yourself better.
- reduce stress.
- solve problems more effectively.
- resolve disagreements with others.
Journaling can also help you to spot trends and to see where weaknesses are or what triggers certain health problems. These records will also provide useful questions and answers when addressing problems with your physician. Journaling is not only helpful for people that want a record of their days, but it can be a tool for working on treating any health issues you want to work on.
There are several types of health journals. A lot of people use health journals when trying to lose weight to track diet and exercise habits. Any type of chronic health problem (such as chronic headaches, which can be helped by making a journal entry whenever symptoms strike.) Sometimes, there’s a lot of seemingly disparate symptoms and you know something isn’t right, which can be helped by noting everything in your health diary. If you’re trying to identify if your chronic pain could be fibromyalgia or depression, journaling can help to spot the trends and track which treatments have worked and which diagnoses have already been tried. It will allow you to see if there are triggers or to identify if certain treatments are or aren’t working.
There are several ways you can keep a journal, depending on what type of information you want to track; A pen and paper journal is always a good start. Use a word processing or spreadsheet program if you’d like. There are several journals available for people who are aging and need to keep track of several different practitioners such as this template from the U.S Administration on Aging. When you’re using a journal to help you reach specific goals, there are several web sites to help make tracking easy. Sparkpeople is one of the most popular of these, especially for people interested in tracking their diet and health habits.
Your health journal can contain anything you want, but it’s a good idea to be sure that it contains some basic information. Any appointments with your doctors and what they said is especially important. If possible, keep track of any insurance information, so when you are discussing new treatments you can have an idea of what is covered and what isn’t. Any day when you’re feeling especially good or bad should be noted–what was different about that day that either soothed or exacerbated your symptoms?
A journal can be a helpful tool in working with health care professionals. By being in charge of tracking your symptoms and treatment plans, your can not only see what works for you, but also see how far you’ve come since your health journey began.