Make a Plan

You may be looking for information about your health questions or concerns for several reasons. You may simply want to understand your health and your body better. You may want to make some changes in your lifestyle or treatment, to feel and do better. Check out your sources of information, decide whether you want to make some changes, and begin to plan ways to achieve your goals.

Talking with your Family and Friends

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What about social media or smartphone app?

Many people turn to social media, like Facebook or blogs, or mobile or smartphone apps for support, advice and guidance. Social media allow people to connect and share common experiences. Smartphone apps may offer easy-to-reach support and practical solutions. However, you may find each offers both positive and negative messages, and accurate or inaccurate information. It is also important to remember that people have their own experiences, and someone else's experience may not be the same as yours.

Think about social media and smartphone apps the same way you think about health websites. As a reminder, three things you can ask about a social media post or an app are:

  • Is the information current?
  • Who is writing the information?
  • Why did they write the information?

These three questions will help you begin to judge whether trusting social media posts or app information is a good idea. Look at the "How Do I Know if the Information is Good" page on the "Get Started" tab for more tips.

There are many mobile apps to help with all kinds of health challenges or conditions. There are apps to help you with things like:

  • Making lifestyle changes such as fitness and diet;
  • Monitoring health issues like tracking your blood pressure or blood sugar; and
  • Coming up with supports and solutions, like app-based feedback or counseling.

There are, as of now, no rules about who can create mobile apps. They may be created by very trustworthy organizations and be based on research, or they may be created by people in an effort to make money. It's important to evaluate an app carefully before you download and use it, to make sure the source is trustworthy, the information is accurate, and that it is relevant to you and your situation. If you have questions about using a health-related smartphone app, you could discuss it with your provider.


Is talking with my friends and family helpful?

Your family and friends may be important sources of practical and emotional support when you have a health challenge. You might rely on them for things like listening to your concerns or successes, driving you to an appointment, or holding your hand when you have blood drawn.

People often turn to family and friends for information and advice about health and health conditions. Sometimes family and friends offer advice whether you want it or not!  Information and advice may be different from emotional support. It is important to remember that the experiences of family members or friends may be different from yours. Think about their experiences, where they get information, and how this might affect the advice and information they give you. Remember that while your family and friends are trying to be helpful, you have your own experiences and opinions about how you feel. There might be similarities between you or your experiences, but you are a unique individual and have your own experiences.

Your family member or friend may think they know you better than you know yourself. They may assume things about you, or make decisions for you, that do not feel quite right. Or, they may help you sift through relevant and accurate information to help you make good decisions about your health.

Take care in choosing the family member or friend whose advice you will follow. Do they have your best interest at heart? Are they committed to living a healthy lifestyle? These are some positive things that friends and family can help you with:

  • Family or friends can help you sort through information you receive on the Internet and judge if it is relevant to you and if it is reliable information.
  • Family or friends can help you decide that it's time to seek professional help for a health issue. They might be able to help you get a referral, or know a good provider.
  • In times of stress, your judgment could be "off" or you might be distracted. If you are together at a doctor's appointment, family or friends can help you remember what was said.
  • Family and friends can help you plan to follow through on treatment that your provider has recommended.

Family members and friends might be health care professionals and work in a field related to your health condition or maybe in a different field. Their advice might be very relevant to your situation, or it might not. Check with your health care provider before making big changes in anything that you are doing for a medical condition.

Use the "My Plan" activities and handouts on this page to complete your own plan.


What do I do with the information I have found?

I found lots of information! I joined a Facebook group, and talked with family and friends. I think this all relates to me and my situation. What do I do now?

Remember the steps we talked about before - gather information, check for accuracy and credibility, and then decide if the information is relevant to you. Once you have done that, the next step is to decide what do with the information. Ask yourself, what is your main goal? What do you want to achieve? Making an action plan can be a simple, practical way to help you make changes in your behavior or develop new behaviors.

Take a piece of paper and write down your answers to the following:

  • Picture the change you'd like to make. What is the goal you want to achieve? Maybe it is changing your treatment plan or getting more exercise or eating healthier foods. Whatever it is, make sure you have a clear goal, and picture yourself achieving your goal successfully.
  • Think about some strategies. What can you do to create the change you want to make? Think of ALL of the possible ways to achieve your goal. Don't judge these ways yet, just make a list of everything and anything. For example, if you want to exercise more, list all the places in your area where you could go and do a sport or exercise as you like, such as a gym or community center. Then, when you have made a list of some different strategies, go through them, and choose 2 or 3 that seem like good ones.
  • What additional information, resources or support do you need? For example, if you want to start running and would like to do it with others, where can you get information about running groups in your area? Where can you get any equipment that you might need? Do you need help with this? Who can support you in taking this action? What obstacles might interfere with this plan? How could you deal with these potential obstacles? For example, if your challenge is in finding time in your schedule, can you plan to change other activities in your day? If you need transportation, think of people who can help or think of public transportation options.
  • Make a concrete action plan with steps that lead to your goal. Be sure the steps are simple, with a reasonable time frame, and specify a benchmark – a way to know you are making progress.
  • Set up a time to follow your plan. Make a commitment! Set up a day and time when you start YOUR plan