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Write It Down: Tips for Keeping a Health Journal

woman writing with a pencil in a notebook with a cup of coffee next to her

A health journal or diary is an ideal way to keep tabs on various aspects of your health. This tool can help you keep track of health issues and monitor your progress towards a healthier lifestyle. Writing things down also makes you more accountable and more aware of patterns that can help you figure out what works – and what doesn’t work – for you.

There is no exact science to keeping a health journal. Each person needs to determine what type of journaling coincides with what they want to track and how comfortable they feel documenting their life. For some, a simple set of numbers or quick stats will do. Others will benefit from more detailed information about diet, exercise, health concerns and how they feel.

If you’re considering keeping a health journal, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Decide the Main Reason for Journaling

Many people keep a health journal to track specific aspects of their health journey. Maybe you made a resolution to lose weight this year. Or you’re training for a marathon. Or your doctor suggested you try to lower your blood pressure naturally. Once you know your reason for journaling, it’ll be easier to figure out what you should track in your journal.

Be as Specific as Possible

Not everyone wants to write a novel about their health or has time to record every aspect of their day but the more detailed you can be, the better. Including measurable information in your journal makes it easier to notice issues that are tripping you up as well as those things you are doing that lead to success.

Look for Patterns

If you are not getting the workout results you were expecting, are having trouble losing weight or are having difficulty sleeping, for example, look through your journal to see patterns that may be affecting your goals. Notice the time you eat or workout, how you feel when you do certain things or what seems to throw you off your usual routine.

Pay Attention to the Trickle-Down Effect

When you write things down, it’s easier to spot when a specific food or activity leads you to do other things, whether positive or negative. For example, if you notice that you have trouble sleeping when you have an afternoon cup of coffee or have a better workout if you eat a full breakfast in the morning, you’ll know what to change in your daily routine and what to keep.

Reward Yourself

Using a journal adds accountability to your actions. This can help you spot areas where you need to improve, but it can also highlight accomplishments and help you keep track of your goals. Not only should you use this tool as a way to reflect and analyze what you’re doing to be a healthier you, but you should also use it as a way to recognize the progress you’re making and reward your efforts.

Refer to Your Journal When Needed

If you are lacking motivation, not feeling well or seeing the doctor about a health issue, your journal can provide you with valuable information. This will help you take charge of your health and become a more empowered patient.

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