Making Healthy Habits Work For You by Sophia Naide

Exercise, sleeping more, cooking healthy meals - where am I supposed to find the time?” As a patient exclaimed this to me recently, I couldn’t help but relate.  The patient’s doctor advised her to implement these wellness strategies as part of managing her health condition. It’s advice that everyone hears, and for good reason: exercise, sleep, and diet are the bedrocks of a healthy lifestyle. But no matter how many times you’ve heard about the importance of getting enough sleep each night and exercising regularly, are you perfect about doing so? I know I’m not. The daily grind of work, school, family, and other responsibilities can present challenges to making time for my health. I definitely empathize with this patient’s frustrations.

This patient came to my office because she was prescribed medication and doesn’t have insurance or any other way to afford it. As a Patient Advocate, I help patients in her situation apply to Patient Assistance Programs (PAP), which offer free medications to patients in need. Through this role, I interact with many patients living with chronic health conditions. Medication is a key part of managing such conditions, but lifestyle changes play an important role, too. My patients are tasked with finding ways to incorporate wellness into their already-busy lives. Like my patients, I’ve struggled to find the time and energy to follow healthy practices in my life. After a long day of service, the only kind of “workout” I’m in the mood for is working my spoon into the crevices of my Nutella jar to scrape out those last drops of chocolatey goodness.

Having identified our common struggle, my patient and I spent a few minutes brainstorming ways to incorporate wellness into our existing routines. My patient made a plan to replace her daily soda with a bottle of water. I decided that during my next Saturday night Netflix marathon, I’ll do 10 minutes of yoga in between each episode. Although these types of changes seem small, they will add up over time. Most importantly, they are healthy habits that work for our lives and that we can commit to sticking to, even when life gets hectic. Building consistent, healthy habits into your daily life is a powerful way to care for yourself. In this new year, what wellness strategies will you commit to?