September Wellness: Preventive Health

Pillars to optimal health

When you think of a healthy lifestyle, you might focus on exercise and nutrition. Make sure you are considering other habits that help prevent disease as well. Check out these often-forgotten pillars to optimal health below:

Preventive care

Stay up to date on wellness exams including yearly physicals and dental and vision appointments. Are your vaccines up to date? Check with your provider to learn more about routine screenings and vaccinations that are right for you.

Emotional well-being

Do you feel appreciated, validated, or understood? You need to feel heard, safe, and loved. Seek support through loved ones and health professionals for anxiety, depression, or other emotional concerns. Practice relaxation to reduce and release stress. Get out in nature, listen to music, take a warm bath, enjoy a hobby, and prioritize sleep. Too much stress can lead to diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease.


Sleep is essential to your physical and mental health. Practicing good sleep habits can help you reap all the benefits of a good night’s rest. Those who don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis can increase their risk of certain diseases and medical conditions. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Social & spiritual connections

Having healthy relationships, values, and beliefs may lower the risk of anxiety and depression. Having friends can increase your self-esteem and empathy and improve your immune system. Humans are social animals. We crave feeling supported, valued, and connected. Having a sense of meaning, purpose, or connecting with a belief is associated with positive mental health.


Is your food fueling health or fueling disease? Go for whole foods instead of fast food or junk food. You are what you eat, so a well- balanced diet is more likely to make you feel your best.

Physical activity

Make movement fun! A body in motion stays in motion. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week. You can work your way up to it by attempting short walks every day.

Making Wise Health Decisions

The health decisions you make for yourself and your family can influence your overall well-being, as well as the quality and cost of care. It’s not always clear what choices are the best ones for you. Educating yourself on your choices can make you a more confident decision-maker. In general, people who work with their providers to make health decisions are happier with the care they receive, and the results.

Whether you are seeking ways to develop healthy habits to improve your health or you were recently diagnosed with a condition, you have the right
to ask questions and make your own decisions. Understanding your condition and the different risks or options is an important step toward making the right choice. Having an open discussion about your treatment involves a balance between listening to the medical facts and considering your personal values.

You are more likely to feel better about the decision if it aligns with your needs and values. Your beliefs, fears, lifestyle, and experiences all play a role
in decision-making. Listening to a professional medical opinion while voicing your personal values and experiences paves a healthy path toward communication with your medical provider. It’s also acceptable to get a second opinion after receiving advice that you aren’t quite sure about.

Follow the steps below when you have a health decision to make.

What are your choices? Make it clear to your provider that you want to be involved in the decision making. Ask them to clearly outline your choices.

Get the facts. Learn about each option through resources like the library, your provider, and reliable websites you can trust. Make sure the information you collect is based on sound medical research.

What do you think? Sort out the information you’ve gathered and make a list of pros and cons to discuss with your provider. Consider your own needs and values and what you consider to be the best possible outcome. Think about who or what may be affected by your decision such as yourself, your friends and family, or your work life.

Try on a decision. Write down the expected outcome for each option and ask your provider if your expectations are reasonable. Be sure to discuss side effects, pain, recovery time, cost, or long-term outcomes of each option. Then see if you still feel it’s the best choice for you.

Make an action plan. Once you make a decision, find out what you can do to have the best possible outcome. What steps do you need to take next? Think positively about your decision and follow your provider’s advice to maximize your odds of success.

Talk with your primary care provider (PCP) about your current health risks or conditions and what
you can do to address them. If you currently do not have any health risks or conditions, speak with your provider about preventive health options that are right for you so you can continue living a healthy, happy life. If you do not have a PCP, consider finding one. Having a PCP is important for maintaining health and preventing and managing serious diseases.

Showing up to a medical appointment prepared to share your questions and concerns can make things easier. Use the fields below to take notes before and during your appointment.

What is the condition or concern? List the symptoms or concerns you need to share with your medical provider.

What are your choices? List your medical provider’s advice and recommendations.

Do you understand your choices? List your medical provider’s facts, evidence, and support for their recommendations. Discuss side effects, pain, recovery time, cost, and long-term outcomes of each option.

What do you think? List the pros and cons of your choices.

What is your plan? Make your decision and plan the next steps.

What other questions do you have? 

The CDC offers reliable information in this alphabetical medical condition index. Use this tool to make sure you and your family are up to date on preventive services. Learn how to be your own health advocate.

By clicking on these links, you will be leaving this website and will be directed to third-party sites. These links are provided for informational purposes only.

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