Taking Responsibility for Your Health
Top 10 tips
By Irene Draisma-Arslan
During this time when everyone is feeling insecure about their health and what measures they can take to stay alive, I would like to share some ways in which we can inspire people to take responsibility for their health.
As ayurvedic practitioners, we first learn how to affect our health with the choices we make about what we eat, what we do, and how we care for our mind, body, and soul.
The next step is to assist others who come to us for health advice. Although the people seeking help vary in scope and severity, the way we can affect their health remains the same.
According to Ayurveda, disease starts from within. There might be external factors that affect our system, but all effects start within our body-mind-spirit complex. This means that how we build and take care of our system or our ‘temple’ is most important for staying healthy.
This begs the question: How can we inspire people to realise responsibility for their health?
1. Lead By Example
Practice what you preach. When you take good care of your body, mind and soul, this radiates outwards. People around you will see this, and be curious about how you live a healthy life. This healthy energy is contagious, and when surrounded by it, people emulate it.
2. Share Your Knowledge In ‘Layman's Language’ & Empower
When you want people to take responsibility for their health, they have to understand how things work and why they should or shouldn't do certain things. Most people become healthier by being more autonomous and when they feel in control (internal locus of control). So, make knowledge practical and directly applicable to the person's daily routine.
3. Place Responsibility Where It Belongs
People often go to a health practitioner with complaints and expect the solution to come from them. There is less time to sit together and explore the problem and then decide on the next steps. This approach takes the responsibility away from the patient. When you ask patients for their opinion, you make the person aware of their responsibility. Instead of prescribing a drug you can ask probing questions about the onset of their symptoms, what they think the cause is, and what actions they have taken in order to engage the person in a participatory state.
4. Provocative Methods
Another method of care and help is to 'provoke' your client. You can only do this if you have built a stable relationship. With this method, you exaggerate actions, complaints, thought patterns. This can be an effective way of motivating someone. I experienced this when I was working a lot and felt tired and sad. As a way to help me, my colleague gave me a provocative message and this gave me the insight and energy to evaluate my actions.
5. Ask Questions About Actions & Experiences
Clarify the link between actions and health. You can ask questions like: 'When did you feel very good and how did you achieve this state?' and 'when did you feel bad and how did you contribute to these unsatisfactory outcomes? This will lead to insights and when they are clear enough it inspires motivation and action.
The more someone loves themselves, the more intrinsic motivation they have to treat their body well. If there are any blockages to self-love, a useful exercise is to investigate the reason why by peeling back the layers to reveal the underlying reasons and then restore that self-love.
Related to self-love, if someone doesn’t believe they can change their behaviour, this will block the motivation for action and decrease the likelihood of healthy outcomes.
8. Impermanence & Interconnectivity
A human body renews itself at every moment. Every action (karma) you take will influence your body, mind and soul. This insight will motivate you to treat yourself better.
9. Dharma & Sukha
Everyone wants to be happy. Happiness (sukha) cannot exist with mere pleasure. As human beings, we need to feel meaning and purpose. Our dharma is the unfolding of our natural self in line with the law of nature. If we align with our nature, we become healthy!
10. Don't Give Unsolicited Advice & Be Humble
Refrain from giving unsolicited advice—it will probably fall on deaf ears. There needs to be a seed of motivation to achieve good health. This statement is also an important one in Ayurveda. Above all, it is important to stay humble. If people find you insincere, arrogant or bossy, they are less likely to find you inspiring. Stay real and close to yourself.
Irene Draisma-Arslan, MSc is a psychologist based in the Netherlands who offers in-person and online sessions. She is a yoga teacher and student of Ayurveda. You can get in touch with her onFacebook,LinkedInand through her website.