Updated: Jan 16
It’s 2020. Can you actually believe it? Have you gotten the hang of writing 2020 when you complete your signatures yet? Me neither. As we leave the holiday season behind, we should be looking forward to creating a fresh environment for ourselves. It is a new year, heck, a new decade. What better time to start off with a clean-ish slate?
One way to ensure you are ready to take on all the opportunities this year will bring is to make sure you are in optimal health. According to the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, African Americans have a generally higher death rate than whites for conditions like asthma, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, influenza and pneumonia, HIV/AIDS and homicide (HHS.gov, 2019). Sobering information, but our hectic and sometimes haphazard lifestyles can lead us here faster than we may want. For the majority of these conditions, prevention is key. Let’s discuss ways you can be your best and most effective health advocate in 2020 and beyond.
Get a physical- the long one
When was the last time you took your car for maintenance? Got an oil change? Your body needs maintenance, too. Getting a yearly physical is crucial to know your baseline.
Create a list of items/concerns you want to speak to your primary care practitioner (PCP) about during the appointment. Put it on your phone so there isn't an “I forgot the list at home” moment. Request a longer appointment, or annual physical to get more time. Lead the conversation to ensure your questions answered.
Recognize familial health concerns
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, mental health disorders, diabetes (or as our elders may refer to it, having the sugar), cancers- all things you should know about within your family. Ask the hard questions. Write it down and tell your PCP your family history so it’s in your health history. Get blood work done so you know your levels. Are you noticing trends within your family history? Adjust your lifestyle accordingly to avoid starting down the road towards health concerns.
Follow through on referrals to specialists
That’s it. Just do it. Don’t advocate for the things you feel you need and not complete the task.
If you don't get the answers you need on pressing medical inquiries, find another PCP. Take this year to create a team of practitioners who recognize the unique experience we have in healthcare and will listen to you.
Mental + Physical
Allow yourself to recognize emotional triggers that create health behaviors (emotional eating, stress that leads to excess alcohol consumption to numb, unhealthy sexual practices to fill voids of past hurts). It’s important to understand the emotions influencing our behaviors. Look into journals that have prompted to help you dig deeper into your behaviors and emotions.
Your Mental Health Matters
Check if your insurance covers therapy, and if it does, go. If it doesn't, look into apps and community resources for affordable services. A great, professional, and affordable community resource for QUALITY therapy services are offered through Faithful Central Bible Church called Champion Counseling Center (https://www.faithfulcentral.com/ccc). It may be offered through the church, but does not have to be faith-based. I utilized their services previously and found it to be amazing. Lastly, create boundaries and routines to ground yourself and create an atmosphere for your life that others recognize. Protect your peace.
Health is wealth. Taking care of yourself is taking care of your network, your family, and friends. Prioritize this- start the decade on a path to better health, both physically and mentally.
(Profile: Black/African American, 2019. https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlID=61)