Skip to Content
👩🏻‍💻
blogresume

Using Notion for Personal Health Tracking

August 11, 2020

Having treatment resistant depression, or any chronic illness, often means trying a lot of different medications and changing them frequently.

This process started many years ago for me, long before I realized it’d be a long-term struggle to find something that worked. I can’t recall anything I used to be on, what dosages I was on, or whether we tapered responsibly. I’ve been keeping a written log of changes like this since 2017 and recently requested my pharmacy history from Walgreens, giving me access to records from before I was diagnosed (I even know the very first birth control I was on!).

I haven’t found a single app that lets me keep this information straight, so I spent some time doing it myself in Notion.

Intro to Notion Databases

Notion can get really powerful when it comes to data. If you know what properties a piece of data should have, you can create a database out of it. If “database” sounds complicated and overwhelming, Notion should make it less so.

Views

Databases are collections of data where each piece of data is a Notion Page. They organize these pages a few different ways through “views”, each helping you understand your data slightly differently:

  • The default view (Table view) is what comes to mind when I think of “database”. It’s like an Excel spreadsheet, with properties listed on the first row.
  • Calendar view helps you see data that has Date properties over time
  • List view is helpful for seeing the list of pages without all the extra data surfaced
  • Board view collects and sorts data based on a specific property, most typically “status” for project planning
  • Gallery view creates a “Card” for each page and displays them in a visually pleasing grid, making it ideal for mood boards and photos

Template Pages

No matter what, you’ll create template Pages with Properties so you can quickly add new items to your database.

A database to track fabrics you own for future projects could have these properties:

  • Name (text)
  • Color (multi-select)
  • Yardage (number)
  • Substrate (multi-select)
  • Where you bought it (select)
  • Width (number)
  • Date you bought it (Date)
  • Wash instructions (multi-select)
  • Dry instructions (multi-select)

Here’s an example of that database so you can get an idea what it looks like.

Example Fabric Database

You can even create Pages with default data filled in. For example, our fabric database could have a “100% cotton” template that already fills in the substrate and care instructions and another “quilting” template with size, fabric, and care all filled in.

Connecting Data

The most powerful thing about Notion is that you can connect your data!

Let’s say you create another database to track sewing projects. This database might include these properties:

  • Name (text)
  • Pattern (link/file)
  • Status (select)
  • Type (select)
  • Gift (checkbox)

And that database can also have a property named “Fabric” that is type relation. And then you can select your fabrics database and connect specific fabrics to the projects they are used in.

You can also create something called a “Linked Database”, which copies an entire database and lets you filter and sort it to show only the entries you care about.

For this example, you could create a linked database based on your projects and filter by projects with “Type” equal to “mask”. And then you’d see data for all of the masks you’re making.

You could even add a Board view and look at the projects grouped by status.

I used both relations and linked databases for my personal health tracking.

Using Notion Databases for Personal Tracking

Medications (Database)

First, I made a database for basic medication information for each medication I’ve been on.

My database has the following fields:

  • Name
  • Generic Name
  • Gene Interaction (from my GeneSight results)
  • Medication Class
  • Link to drugs.com info page for that med
  • Whether I’m currently taking the medication

Medications Database Template

Med List (Linked Database based on Medications)

Then I created a new page that displayed my Medications database filtered by currently taken and voila! I had my current medication list.

Med List Template

Med Log (Database with relation to Medications)

Then I created a new database with a relation to the medications database to track every time I change medications. This keeps track of when I start a new med, change the dosage, stop a med, accidentally miss one, or take an as-needed medication.

Med Log Template

Medication Page (Linked Database based on Med Log)

Then I can create pages for each medication I want to see over time. For example, I’ve weaned on and off Lamictal multiple times.

I created a linked database by typing /link and selecting “Create Linked Database”, linking my Med Log, and then filtering by Medication Name.

Screenshot of table view filter UI

Medication Page Template

I can add additional views for each of these, choosing “Add a view” and selecting to see them in Calendar format, for example.

Additionally, I want to track my moods along with environmental factors that might affect how I’m feeling. I used to use Daylio for this, but since everything lives in Notion now, I created a similar system here.

Daily Data (Database)

I created pre-filled selects for things like Weather and Pain and left check boxes for activities (though I could create a similar list and then select all the activities I did that day, like in Daylio). This allows me to look at how the weather affects my mood, how often I shower, how often I do things that bring me joy like singing, in a calendar view. I also journal in the comments. I rate my mood out of 10 and post Fitbit sleep data too.

Daily Data Template

Putting it all together

Want to adopt my entire system? All the pages are nested under a single page here:

Full Tracking Template

I hope this proves helpful for someone like me, who wants a little more control and organization around managing and tracking health.

© 2020 Madalyn ParkerDesign by Fabiola Rosso
Made with ❤️ using Gatsby and Netlify