Nurse Kate’s Tips for Navigating Your Health and Breathing Into Your Best Life!
“I am in control of my health. ”
Over the years with my own health struggles and (often bumpy) journey to optimal wellness, I’ve had to learn not only how to advocate for my needs, but how to carve my own path along the way. I’ve learned the importance of sorting through and pulling the weeds from the forest to locate the beautiful trail which passes through to the other side. Looking back, this journey hasn’t been about finding optimal health or “curing” my ills. I’ve come to realize that it’s been about finding myself along the way. It’s been about loving myself enough to find the answers meant for me to achieve my version of optimal wellness. It’s been about never settling for anything less than me living my best life! Seeing the woman that has emerged as I’ve allowed her the space she needs for growth and discovery, has been the ultimate blessing, making this entire journey well worth the stumbles, the road blocks, and the (metaphorical and literal) blood, sweat, and tears along the way. I’ve come a long way since the beginning of my wellness journey and have learned a great deal. I encourage you to seek your own path to achieve optimal wellness, so you too, can live and breathe your best life!
I’m quite sure I’m not alone when I say that I have often felt unseen and unheard by my healthcare providers. I felt I needed guidance in navigating the system and working through the growing number of vague discomforts that had been effecting my quality of life - fatigue, bloating, stubborn weight, chronic constipation, many food sensitivities, frequent colds and infections, aches and pains, and more. My reports of feeling “off” were dismissed by provider after provider. Labs and tests that were performed led me to hope for an answer, but resulted as ‘normal’. I began to think it was “all in my head” as no one seemed to have the time to listen or know how to guide me to a solution.
It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I decided to take my health in my own hands and began researching some of my symptoms, searching for answers. Even as an experienced nurse, there were many ups and downs along the way. I had more questions than answers to my problems. I researched and trialed more protocols than I can count at the moment. They would bring subtle relief, but I was still feeling lack-luster. Providers, dollars, time, and energy all spent, with no lasting relief. I was about to give up on finding a solution. “I guess this is what it’s like to get older.” Then something occurred to me. Had I been approaching this journey from the wrong perspective? Like my conventional healthcare team, I was digging for an “external fix”. I was piling on “fixes”, never considering I must “inquire within”.
I decided to take a more internal and holistic approach. The only person I hadn’t yet consulted about a solution to my health was myself. I decided to turn inward and listen to what my body was telling me she needed. I focused my attention on slowing down, allowing space, and following my inner guidance. I was amazed with what transpired! The slowness and allowing of space ignited a wisdom, inner strength, and an unyielding desire to create a life of joy and lasting wellness. From that space, wellness was born! After years of struggling with symptoms that refused to budge, I finally felt a gentle release.
I began to journal and seek answers from within. I considered alternative perspectives on wellness - shifting my focus to mindset, presence, quality sleep, movement, exposure to nature, creation of healthy boundaries, and so much more! This knowledge was new to me - something I had never learned while in nursing school, experienced in my hospital positions, or been taught by my healthcare team. Seeking from within led to me cultivating my own path. Instead of following a dietary fad, I listened to my intuition and fed my body what she was lacking or craving. When the well-recommended exercise regimen didn’t feel right within my body, I moved at a more gentle pace, honoring my natural rhythms. As I paved my own way, I noticed that I began to feel a wellness that I never before experienced. I was focusing on minimizing stress and created healthy avenues to express my emotions. I created a nighttime ritual to honor my body’s need for rest and recovery. I started a food journal and began eliminating foods that seemed to relate to my recurring symptoms. I sought out to live a life centered on presence and joy. Before I knew it, my discomforts began to ease. After years of consuming supplements and protocols and ignoring internal warning signs of overload, I had finally begun listening to my intuition and forged the path that worked for me.
Trust Your Gut
Ever since uncovering this path, I’ve been inspired to assist others to do the same for themselves. If I had to sum up my experience into tangible steps, the most important place to start to breathe into your best life, would be to first listen to your intuition. You know yourself best! Your health and life is in your hands alone. Create a practice to retreat inward. Allow for space and quiet to hear your inner voice, and then trust that she will guide you to where you need to be.
Here are some journal prompts to get you started:
Ask yourself - Is this (product, belief, relationship, etc.) helping or harming me along my journey to wellness?
Is it serving my highest good?
Will continuing to live from this space lead to the outcome I seek?
State Your WHY
Along your journey you’ll experience obstacles. The road to breathing your best life is rarely paved. External opinions and judgements will tempt you to question your choices. Challenges will threaten to throw you off course. Delayed gratification will leave you struggling to summon the motivation to continue onward. After asking yourself where you want to be on your journey, ask yourself why it’s so important to get there.
Write down your reason for seeking lifelong wellness:
Journal about the feelings you’ll experience when this dream finally comes to fruition.
Write down your WHY and hang it up where you can revisit it often.
During your inward reflections, begin to tap into the feelings you hope to experience when you reach optimal wellness, and experience these feelings as if you’ve already achieved your goal!
When bumps come along the journey, remind yourself of your WHY and find how it reignites your passion to continue forward.
Find Your Tribe
Along your journey, you may find you’re choosing the path less traveled. Having a support network can often be the difference between struggling and succeeding. Even if you start with only one other person in your “tribe” (Remember, that tribe can be expanded now thanks to our many virtual connections!), you must find that one person/tribe who will support you through both the smooth and bumpy patches along your journey. No doubting, no judging; just genuine, unwavering support for you along your journey. Those within your support network don’t have to be on the same (or even a similar) journey as you, they have to be willing to walk the path with you.
Sit down with your journal and consider everyone you have to call upon when you need help:
Who’s a friend who has gone through a similar journey of growth that may be able to offer support?
Who can you call upon when you need someone to listen that won’t offer unsolicited advice?
Who will help to find the answers you seek?
Always Ask Questions
I urge you to find the courage to never consider only one view of the forest. Always ask why, and then ask why again until you feel led in the right direction. There’s no one way to clear a path. And what works for some, may not be the right answer for you. Remember you are in control of your health. I urge you to never leave an appointment feeling as if you were told what to do, didn’t have your questions addressed, or didn’t feel as if your concerns were heard.
Listen to your intuition for feedback:
If your provider makes a suggestion, have the courage to question the risks and benefits and inquire about alternative options.
Ask to be directed to more resources or research when you need help in making a decision.
Search for a provider who takes the time to hear your story and is willing to work with you to find a solution, rather than hang their head at the keyboard and rush you out the door.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Allow yourself the grace to incorporate these steps along your journey, and see how you too learn how to sort through the weeds to find the clear path through the forest. If this all sounds too complicated and overwhelming, remember this is where a health coach, nurse navigator, or advocate can be a trusted guide. A trained coach can support you in turning up the volume of your inner voice, locating appropriate resources and discerning what’s applicable to you and your situation, help you to identify and overcome challenges and barriers, help you to remain motivated along the journey, and can even help you to figure out what questions to ask yourself or your healthcare team when things get too tricky to navigate on your own.
And always remind yourself - “I am in control of my own health.”
Need inspiration? Nurse Kate will guide you through a 1 hour vision workshop from the comfort of your own space! Get creative and let inspiration flow through journaling, creating a vision board and guided meditation!
Kate is a 2010 graduate of Drexel University with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is also a certified Women’s Health Coach Certification by The Integrative Women’s Health Institute, on track to become board certified through the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). Kate is passionate about educating and inspiring women about health and wellness. She is excited to come on-board as Care Navigator/Health Coach to guide and support women in creating the life they love!