Building Self Advocacy Skills

Building Self Advocacy Skills
Photo by Agnieszka Boeske on Unsplash

Navigating healthcare can feel overwhelming, but it’s a crucial piece in preventative health.  

Self advocacy allows us to:

  • take a proactive approach in our lifestyle by adopting healthier habits
  • to regularly check in with our bodies and our minds and notice when we don’t quite feel right, or are not coping well with stressors
  • to seek early detection for potential risks
  • to communicate with our healthcare providers about our specific needs and health goals
  • to build a support network that includes trusted healthcare professionals, friends and family.  This network provides encouragement, accountability, and assistance in maintaining preventative health practices, creating a holistic approach to well-being.  

Sometimes, we might not feel comfortable advocating for ourselves. We might feel:

    • Fearful of Challenging Authority.  
      • Right or wrong, we might feel like there’s a power imbalance, and that questioning authority might negatively impact the quality of the healthcare we receive.  And so we might hesitate to challenge opinions or decisions of healthcare professionals. 
    • Like we don’t have enough knowledge or information.
      • It can be overwhelming and challenge our confidence trying to understand complex medical information, or worrying about not having enough knowledge to be an active participant in discussions about our healthcare. Especially when we're worried about our health . . . and that can stop us from advocating for ourselves
    • Cultural or Language Barriers:
      • As the daughter of Italian immigrants, I have seen first hand how individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds or those who speak languages other than English, may face challenges in effective communication. These are smart and capable people, but cultural and language barriers can make it difficult for them to find the information they are looking for, express their needs and preferences, and challenge their confidence in questioning healthcare professionals.

What are some ways to overcome these barriers to self advocacy?  Well, you’re off to the best start, you’ve joined the PHAM movement and believe in the need to become the CEO of your own health!

Here are a few more tips for you.

  1. Build your Health Literacy

Remember the pillars of good health - nutrition, movement, sleep, stress and mindset.  Educate yourself around what’s important in each of these areas, using trusted sources of information (think PHAM, reputable health websites, government health portals, and medical professionals), and how to easily transition your lifestyle to improve your health or navigate medical conditions and make informed decisions.   

Your family doctor may have resources and information for you on areas like lifestyle and nutrition.  My own doctor’s Family Health Team offers free workshops on brain health, coping with stress, dealing with anger, calming strategies and much more.

  1. Get Regular Check-Ups:

Prevention and early detection play a crucial role in maintaining good health. Regular monitoring allows for timely interventions and promotes a proactive approach to healthcare.  This also gives you a chance to practice speaking with your doctor or other healthcare professional, not in a time of crisis.  It allows you to build a relationship with your primary healthcare provider, and to practice asking questions so you can feel more comfortable in the future.  

  1. Have an appointment buddy

Bring a trusted friend or family member to your appointment, and be that person for them.  When you’re anxious about seeing the doctor, having someone there with you can not only offer you a comforting presence, that person can also be your second set of ears and eyes, catching details you may have missed, and  helping you take notes, and ask good questions.

  1. Take notes and ask Questions:

This is especially helpful if you receive a diagnosis, (or if you don’t and would like more follow up).  You could ask about diagnosis, treatment options and plans, and potential side effects, and complimentary treatments including lifestyle changes. Understanding your health journey helps you actively participate in decision-making and receive personalized care.

It's a great idea to prepare your questions before your appointment, or to schedule a follow up appointment to discuss things once you’ve had a chance to process information.  Ask for copies of your test results so you can share them with other health professionals.  For example, if your doctor requests bloodwork, you can share the results with your naturopath, allowing a more collaborative approach to your healthcare.

  1. Establish Open Communication:

Build a strong and open relationship with your healthcare team. Effective communication fosters trust and allows you to express your concerns, preferences, and goals. Feel free to share relevant information about your lifestyle, habits, and any changes in your health.

  1. Seek Second Opinions:

If you have doubts or uncertainties about your diagnosis or treatment plan, you might consider seeking a second opinion from another qualified healthcare professional. This can provide additional perspectives and options, giving you more confidence in your healthcare decisions.

  1. Use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) 

EFT is an evidence based, mind body approach to processing difficult emotions. It excels at reducing stress, allowing you to think clearly and make more informed and clear decisions, or to make the changes in your lifestyle.

Tapping ahead of the appointment can help calm the anxiety, so you can feel calm and confident in your conversations with your health professional. 

To find out more, book your free 15-minute consult here.

💪🏼 Remember, you are the most important member of your healthcare team!  Advocacy and self-advocacy in healthcare are essential for individuals to actively participate in decisions about their health. 

One small step at a time - that’s where you’ll see the greatest gains. 

Congratulations on taking the first step by joining the PHAM Movement!

Need some help with your Menopause Playbook, managing the stress and taking action?   I’m Nancy Brooker, the Menopause Coaching Specialist, Certified and Accredited Advanced EFT Practitioner and Master Life Coach.  Let’s talk ❤️

Hit pause, then PLAY!  Life shifts and so can you.  Menopause is a groove, not a grind! 💃🏻

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