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Clinical Corner


Health Basics: How to Understand and Improve Your Well-Being

What is Health Literacy and Why is it Important?

Health education is critical for people to be able to make informed health decisions for themselves. Health literacy means that people are able to find and understand health information they get from their doctors or other resources and use that information to make the best choices for their care, which helps ensure better outcomes.

Below we’ll get into some basic health literacy tips explaining what you need to know and simple things you can do to better understand and take care of your overall well-being.

Basic Preventive Care Strategies

Preventing problems before they start is the best way to avoid a health crisis. Getting regular checkups is a great way to stay on top of your health and identify any potential issues. Annual exams measure key health markers and can help your provider determine which screenings and vaccines might be right for you based on age and lifestyle factors.
 

What Do You Need to Know?

Numbers

Everyone’s baseline is different. Getting familiar with your normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels is a great way to help prevent heart disease and diabetes. It lets you know when to make behavior adjustments or start medications before things have a negative impact on your health.

Screenings

Preventive screenings for things like breast, colon, and cervical cancer save lives. Your provider will consider your age, family history, and lifestyle to determine if and when these tests are right for you. If you’re interested or think it’s time, connect with your provider to learn more.

Vaccinations

Vaccines help our bodies fight off germs that can make us sick by training our immune systems how to fight the infections so we’re protected. Staying up to date on your vaccinations helps keep you, and everyone around you, healthy. Talk to your provider to find out if you’re due for any.

Mental and Emotional Wellness

It’s easy to overlook, but taking care of your mental and emotional health is essential. When you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, etc., it impacts your physical well-being and can cause chronic health issues. Being aware of symptoms and catching them early can lead to better outcomes and a better quality of life. Prioritizing your mental and emotional health can benefit your relationships, school/work performance, stress levels, sleep quality, and more.

Social and Lifestyle Factors That Affect Health

Many things play a role in how healthy we are that may not feel obviously connected to our medical status. Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) along with our personal behaviors and habits can greatly impact our well-being. To get a full picture of your risk factors, try to keep track of and talk to your provider about things like:

Diet
What and how much do you eat day-to-day?
Sleep
What are your sleep habits?
Do you get enough quality sleep?
Exercise
How often and what kind of exercise do you get?
Substances
What are your levels of alcohol, tobacco, and/or drug use?
Stress
What are your stress levels?
What causes you stress?
How do you manage it?
Finances
Are you financially stable/secure or is money a regular source of stress?
Relationships
Do you have healthy and supportive relationships?
Are you dealing with abuse in any of your relationships?
Do you feel lonely?
Environment
Do you have stable housing?
Is your neighborhood safe?
Are you exposed to any harmful conditions/chemicals where you are?
Job
Is your job physically demanding or sedentary?
Is it a source of anxiety?
Resources
Do you have access to food, medical care, and other basic needs?

 

Things to Look Out For

Keep an eye on the following symptoms and life circumstances and discuss with your provider if you need help:

Sleep Quality
Overall mood
Stress levels
Finances
Relationship issues
Domestic abuse
Loneliness
Housing stability
Food access

 

Your provider will partner with you to come up with a personalized plan to get you feeling better again.