How To Decode Your Health Log
Once you have completed your Health Log, it is time to become a detective. Pain is your body's way of communicating with you, so the goal is to learn what it is trying to say. You are now looking for clues- any patterns or coincidences that stand out for further consideration.
While you investigate your gathered information, you are paying attention to clues in a number of areas, including nutrition, water intake, exercise, sleep, stress, medications, schedule/daily routine, other co-occurring medical concerns, and the weather.
Consider each of these categories carefully, and really think about what you are doing in your current routine. Write down your observations as you go. As the patterns begin to emerge, you will have a much better idea of what areas to investigate further while developing your Pain-Free Plan.
When I did this the first time, I started to see things I had never considered before. I noticed that sleep was a major factor for me, and not just in terms of my general insomnia. I realized that if I went to bed passed 10:30 I'd get a headache the next day, even if I got a solid 8 hours of sleep. I noticed that certain restaurants and processed foods were linked to headaches, even if they were technically gluten free. One of my biggest realizations was recognizing that antihistamines cause muscle tension for me, which in turn leads to headaches.
I also discovered what was working really well for me, like going to Pilates and Barre three times a week, or eliminating sugar and making all of my meals from scratch. Drinking lots of water beginning first thing in the morning is also a major protective factor, as well as managing stress by incorporating lots of downtime in my routine.
These are not mind-blowing revelations, to be sure. We all know we should do all of these things. Yet there was something really clarifying about seeing the data right in front of me, and going through the process of evaluation myself. I didn't really believe all of these things would reduce my headaches until I saw the proof with my own eyes.
Once you have a good idea of your areas of concern, the next step is to do some serious research. Become a student of your own chronic pain. If you have insomnia like me, then become a sleep expert. If you've never gone gluten-free or tried a Paleo diet, then become an expert on your diet. Whatever your areas of concern, become committed to finding answers and new alternatives. Give yourself permission to be your own healthy living experiment. Learn everything you can, and don't be afraid to shake up your routine and try new things.
The information you need is already out there, waiting for you to discover it. And the more information you acquire, the better equipped you will be to develop an effective Pain-Free Plan.