Taking Stock:  How is your Health?

Jun 06, 2024

There’s no question that our health often takes a back seat to busy schedules and pressing responsibilities.  I am a regenerative health advocate, coach, and educator and my health gets lost way too often.   I’m reasonably good with the dental checkups and with visits to the endocrinologist; but the other preventative health screenings just seem to get lost in the shuffle.  Actually, to me, those appointments seem to be more about ticking the box and placating the doctor than they are about improving my health and wellbeing.  

But let me not bemoan the ills of our healthcare system.  Today, I wanted to share something that I believe IS useful in motivating healthy behaviours:  completing a health history.  Indeed, completing a health history can be a transformative means to gain insight and understanding, realise motivation, and pull together a plan for improving one’s health and overall well-being.   

If you’re not familiar with health histories, they are simply questionnaires that walk you through your life, prompting you to remember and reflect on your physical, mental, and emotional health.  But don’t be confused. A health history is not just a record of past ailments and treatments; it is a comprehensive profile that helps you chart the genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that may have affected your (or your child’s health.) By meticulously working through a health history, you can uncover valuable insights that will help you better manage your preventive care, self-care, and lifestyle choices.

There are many, many health history forms that can be found on the internet.  What makes one good or bad is not so much the questions on the form as the insight they provoke.  But rather than pulling one down from the net at random, I’ve constructed one for you. Just click here for the online version   Or here to download a .pdf.   It looks rather long (sorry about that) but most of the questions can be answered very quickly.  Many you’ll be able to skip over entirely because you can’t quite remember the answers.  Remember, however, that the point isn’t actually to complete the questionnaire.  The point is to help you start thinking about and mulling over how your health has shifted over the years.  The intent is to pique your interest, have you asking questions, calling relatives, and learning about you, your family, its history, and how you all collectively have lived your lives.  

If you were to make this health history a project for the next month, I am certain that at the end of the month you would have a much richer understanding of how and why you - and/or other family members - have fallen ill in the past, what you are sensitive to, and what supports your resilience. 

I really hope that you might give this project a go.  Below, I walk through the major sections of this health history, suggesting why these sections are important and what you might get out of completing them.  Do take a look. 

Understanding The Family History 

The first section of this questionnaire contains a set of questions about the ailments and illnesses of  your extended family. This segment provides crucial information about hereditary conditions and potential genetic predispositions. Knowing the medical history of your paternal and maternal grandparents, for example, can help identify recurring health issues. Clearly, if multiple family members have suffered from heart disease or diabetes, you can be more vigilant about these conditions and take preventive measures early on.

Similarly, understanding the health conditions that affected your parents—their current age, age at your birth, and any known ailments—can also offer insights into the health issues to which you might be predisposed. This knowledge is not just about preparing for potential health problems but also about understanding the lifestyle choices and environmental factors that might have contributed to these conditions. For example, if your parents developed certain health issues at a relatively young age, it might prompt you to adopt healthier habits to mitigate similar risks.

Reflecting on Health and Development in Childhood and Early Adulthood

The Childhood section of your health history sheds light on the foundational aspects of your health. Information about childhood vaccines, diet, and major childhood illnesses provides a snapshot of your early health environment. The childhood diet can reveal patterns that might have long-term effects on your health. For instance, a diet high in sugar and processed foods during childhood may have contributed to health issues such as obesity or diabetes in adulthood. Similarly, understanding your activity levels, sleep levels, major illness, and/or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), if any, can also provide insight into how these experiences might have impacted your mental and physical health in later life.

The Young Adulthood section delves into how your lifestyle choices and the environmental factors experienced during early adulthood have similarly influenced your current health. Clearly, your stress levels and sleep history as a young adulthood may have impacted your current health. Chronic stress and poor sleep are linked to quite a variety of health issues, including cardiovascular diseases and mental health disorders.  How likely is that your health today has links to university days?  Hmmm. . . 

Evaluating Your Current Health Status

The next major section looks at your Current Health status,  providing a real-time snapshot of your well-being. This section covers various aspects of your life, from family status to diet, activity levels, sleep patterns, and stress levels. 

Understanding your current family status—e.g., marital status, employment, and number of  children in the home—can help you recognise how family dynamics impact your health. Clearly, balancing work, parenting, and personal time can be stressful, and identifying these stressors can lead to better stress management strategies.

Similarly, analysing your current diet and activity levels can highlight areas for improvement. Are you eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients, or is your diet dominated by processed foods? Are you engaging in regular physical activity, or have you become sedentary? Similarly, understanding your sleep patterns can reveal whether you are getting sufficient rest or if sleep disturbances are affecting your health.

Identifying recent notable events or milestones—such as job changes, relocations, or personal achievements—can provide context for changes in your health. These events often bring about significant lifestyle changes that can impact your physical and mental health.

Of course, the Current Medications section is also vital for managing your ongoing health needs. Keeping an accurate list of all medications you are taking ensures that any healthcare provider can have a clear understanding of your treatment regimen. This information helps prevent drug interactions and ensures that your medications are effectively managing your health conditions.

Emphasizing Self-Care Practices

Finally, the Self-Care section of the Health History form underscores the importance of daily habits and routines in maintaining health. This section covers self-care practices around food, sleep, activity, stress, and the home environment. By reflecting on how you care for yourself in these areas, you can identify strengths and areas for improvement.

For instance, self-care practices around food might include meal planning, dietary restrictions, or mindful eating habits. These practices can significantly impact your nutritional intake and overall health. Similarly, self-care practices around sleep—such as maintaining a consistent bedtime routine and ensuring a conducive sleep environment—are crucial for quality rest.

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining physical fitness and overall health. Self-care practices around activity might include regular exercise routines, participation in sports, or even daily walking habits. Additionally, managing stress through practices such as meditation, yoga, or hobbies can greatly enhance your mental and emotional well-being.

The home environment also plays a significant role in your health. A clean, organised, and safe living space can reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being. Reflecting on self-care practices in the home environment might lead to decluttering, creating a calm space, or ensuring your living area supports healthy habits.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  

The Insights Gained from Completing a Health History

Working through a health history provides several key insights:

  1.  Preventive Care: By identifying genetic predispositions and lifestyle factors that have contributed to family health issues in the past, you can take proactive steps to prevent similar issues in the future. This might involve regular screenings, lifestyle changes, or consultations with healthcare providers.
  2.  Personalised Health Plans: Understanding the unique aspects of your health history allows for the creation of personalised health plans tailored to your specific needs. This can enhance the effectiveness of treatments and improve overall health outcomes.
  3.  Behavioural Patterns: Analysing your health history helps identify patterns in behaviour that might contribute to health issues. For example, recognising periods of high stress and poor sleep can lead to strategies to manage these factors better.
  4.  Informed Decision-Making: With a comprehensive health history, you are better equipped to make informed decisions about your health. Whether it's choosing a treatment option or making lifestyle changes, having a complete picture of your health background allows for more confident and effective choices.
  5.  Holistic Understanding: A detailed health history provides a holistic view of your health, integrating physical, mental, and emotional aspects. This holistic understanding is essential for achieving overall well-being and addressing the interconnected nature of different health factors.

Personally, I think completing a health history is an essential task for all of us.  Perhaps that’s just the accounting professor in me; but I believe it is important to have the information and insights written down and analysed. Does it matter more for some than others?  Of course. When and if an illness or special need emerges in the family, the awareness you can and will realise from completing a health history will matter significantly.   And, sadly, that’s likely to happen sooner rather than later.  We live in a harsh, demanding world now.  We need to be thinking about our emotional and mental health as well as our physical health. But, of course, it’s not just our health but potentially our partner’s and our children’s health that matters.  Our and their energy levels, outlook and optimism, cardiovascular health, gut health, bone health, hormonal health . . .  not to mention how we look and are aging.  There’s a lot to mange.  

Writing something down is a first step towards managing it all!  

Yours in Health & Happiness,


Here again is the online survey version. Here is the .pdf version you can download.  Sorry, there are improvements that could be made to formatting.  Note that the online version asks for your email ONLY so as to provide you with a copy of your answers.  But you needn't enter your email.  You can easily take screen shots.  :-). I hope you find it useful.