We are living in the age of information and choices. But there is a dark side to this epoch and liberty. With information and opinions coming from all directions and endless sources, some more reputable than others, we are now also living in an age of misinformation, polarization, and harsh criticism for our personal choices. When it comes to your mind-body wellness, navigating what is right for you isn’t always a clearly marked route. Part of the reason is that no one path fits all. So, how do you sort through conflicting information and equip yourself with the right resources and knowledge to do what’s right for your health?
How to Do What’s Right for Your Health
There will always be someone who feels that their way is the only way. This is simply just not true. In the realm of health, there is no singular approach that works for all. However, it is your responsibility to do what’s right for your health, and to help you do so we recommend adhering to the following six steps.
Education is synonymous with empowerment. If you want to do what’s right for your health despite the inundation of conflicting information, you have to arm yourself with knowledge. Be curious, ask questions, challenge the status quo—think of health education as a personal quest toward homeostatic bliss. The more you learn and understand about your unique body (and mind), individual needs, and viable solutions, the better equipped you’ll be to make the decisions that are exclusively right for you.
It’s best not to make any rash or consequential decisions when you are in a state of fight or flight. Unless, of course, you are in an actual survival-type situation and need to make a life or death-related decision. In other words, don’t let fear, panic, or stress from the news, social media, or even your healthcare provider dominate your inner voice of reason. Adopting a meditation or breathwork practice can help you tune out fight-or-flight triggers, and tune in to what is ultimately going to be best for your wellbeing.
Here is an example of this type of scenario: if you’ve just received a concerning diagnosis, let’s say late disseminated Lyme disease, you don’t need to immediately accept the first option presented to you for treatment. In this scenario, most conventional doctors’ first course of action would be multiple rounds of antibiotics. Upon receiving this diagnosis, it is only natural that you feel angsty and vulnerable, and antibiotics might be the treatment course you ultimately decide to take.
However, before making any health-related decisions, it is a good idea to take a step back, calm your mind, educate yourself, evaluate your options, and make a decision driven by your inner voice of reason. In the case of chronic Lyme disease, there are all sorts of different treatment paths and therapies.
Follow Your Intuition
If Billy or Brenda jumped off a dangerously high bridge, would you follow? Of course not. You know better than to give in to peer pressure. And for that matter, you know better than to give into familial, societal, or political pressures, too. However, avoiding pressure-based decisions is sometimes easier said than done. We’ve all likely made a decision or two in our lives that wasn’t entirely ours.
While it’s important to remain open-minded, ultimately, you must make up your own mind. That’s not to say our friends, family, colleagues, and trusted resources can’t steer us in the right direction or introduce us to alternative health options; the point is, we shouldn’t let others influence us in a way that isn’t in line with our intuition.
Embrace Your Unique Mix of Viewpoints
You have permission to believe, follow, or adhere to more than one viewpoint or belief. In fact, you can even dabble in viewpoints that are seemingly conflicting or on opposite sides of the spectrum, for example, naturopathic and allopathic medicine or germ theory and terrain theory. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness. As unique as you are as a physical, emotional, and spiritual being, your approach to healing and maintaining health can be equally as unique.
Pursue Personalized Medicine
Maybe Paleo works for your brother; one meal a day suits your best friend; antibiotics eliminated early localized Lyme disease in your boss; Wim Hof changed your colleague Jill’s life. But you are not your brother, your best friend, your boss, or Jill—you are you. Fortunately, there is such a thing as personalized medicine. The right diet, treatments, therapies, cures (natural or otherwise), and lifestyle practices should be tailored to you. The good news is, they can be!
Be Confident in Your Personal Health Decisions
By educating yourself, easing fight or flight, following your intuition, embracing unique viewpoints, and pursuing personalized medicine—you will find yourself confident in your personal health decisions. When you are confident in your choices and external actions, you will invariably create a more stable environment internally for your body to heal and thrive.
4 Tips to Avoid Rabbit Holes and Misinformation
Alice isn’t the only one who has ever fallen down a rabbit hole! I think it’s safe to say, every one of us has fallen into the digital abyss at least once while searching the world wide web. It happens to the best of us! But we need to be careful in the depths of the interweb.
Aside from derailing you from your original search, you might also find yourself bombarded with conflicting or false information, impassioned opinion-based tirades, and ideas that detract you from your intuition, beliefs, and knowledge about what’s best for your health.
Try these four helpful tips to avoid misinformation and falling down a rabbit hole.
Create a Clear Research Action Plan
Before even turning on your device, take a few minutes to mentally or physically jot down a little research action plan. This will help you stay on track. Your plan should include your main objective (i.e., what is the primary question you are trying to answer; How do I know if a vegan diet is right for me?), and a list of complementary questions that will ensure several sources are consulted and lead to a more comprehensive answer to your main objective.
Is a vegan diet right for me?
What are the risks of eating an all plant-based diet?
What are the benefits of going vegan?
Is a vegan diet healthy for athletes or highly active individuals?
What are the best sources of vegan protein?
Do vegans need to take supplements?
Is it safe to eat a vegan diet if you have X condition/syndrome?
What is the best way to transition to veganism?
Do not stray from your action plan. If you find yourself being drawn toward a potential rabbit hole, write down or bookmark what has grabbed your attention and save it for later.
Avoid Click Bait
These days, you can hardly access a website without seeing a slew of advertisements or a link to a must-see YouTube video. Remember, though; you are on a quest for reputable information to help you make informed decisions regarding your wellbeing. Don’t be sidetracked by all the distractions! There is a time and place for social media, vlogs, and shopping; this is not the time.
Get Your Sources Straight
Let’s talk about research and sources. Remember when you were in primary school preparing for your very first research assignment? Mine was a paper and presentation on ocelots. Your teacher likely gave an introductory lecture on what sources were acceptable and which ones were not. As you continued your academic career from elementary school onward, your educators probably continued to build upon this initial lesson on where to get your facts.
According to The Reliable Source, credible sources include “materials published within the last ten years; research articles written by respected and well-known authors; websites registered by educational institutions; academic databases; and materials from Google Scholar.” Sources that should be avoided include, “materials published over ten years ago; posts from social networks; blogs; and research articles without citations.”
While you can undoubtedly obtain credible information from blogs and social network shares, the information presented in those formats should come from the aforementioned list of credible sources.
Your “friend” Allen, who is ranting on his Instagram story about how the OMAD (one meal a day) fast is the only fast worth doing, shouldn’t be your end-all source of information. Acquiring the knowledge you need to make an informed decision often requires digging around and filtering out what’s reputable and objective versus solely opinion-based.
Time traveling back to your schooling years again, those research assignments you completed during your education definitely required you to find, read in their entirety, and cite more than one source. It can be difficult to make an informed decision or obtain a relatively comprehensive understanding of any topic just by reading one source; your health is at stake here!
Create PDFs of Articles You Want to Read
A technique I employ when I am researching for an upcoming assignment is to dedicate an hour or two to quickly accumulating relevant and potentially useful articles. After I have created my research action plan, I start plugging my questions into Google and Google Scholar. Since I have been a researcher and writer for a long time, I already have a list of resources that I know are reputable and will likely provide the objective and research-backed information I am seeking. I am, however, open-minded to finding new sources and always welcome different perspectives. Once I’ve accumulated at least four or so sources for each of my action plan questions, I go through and save each one as a PDF file.
Then, undistracted by the Internet, I read and highlight my PDFs. Sometimes, I even disregard a source altogether and later do a second round of research to fill in the gaps. This helps me to avoid rabbit holes, eliminate distractions, and thoroughly read a variety of resources that then allow me to confidently convey the topic. This approach can be very useful when seeking your own answers to important health questions.
Are There Wrong Choices?
Yes. A wrong choice is typically led by panic, fear, or pressure, false information, and against your intuition. We might be constantly surrounded by conflicting health information and loud opinions, but we also have a wealth of resources at our fingertips to help us discover what is best for our personal health. Remember, though, part of that wealth comes from within; you just have to tune out and tune in.
Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or treatments mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a licensed medical practitioner for medical advice.
At Innovative Medicine, we believe in transparency. We want you to know that we may participate in affiliate advertising programs pertaining to products mentioned herein.
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