I always thought I was well. I worked a job I loved, had a great husband and three wonderful children and I just always seemed to roll with the punches. You know the punches of life: financial punches; relationship punches; worry punches; trying to do things perfect punches; chronic stress punches. I looked great, I could encourage others even at my absolute lowest and I still found a way to listen to others and somehow have the strength to walk with them through their issues, yet I was drowning in mine.
It's amazing how we define "wellness" when we're operating in the exact opposite of the very definition of wellness, which is defined by Websters as "the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort." I believed as long as I was functioning and it looked ok, I was ok.
I developed debilitating anxiety and panic attacks in 2012. Because my initial panic attack took place while I was driving I became terrified to drive and when I did drive (medicated) I was afraid to go further than a mile from my home. I hated the way the medication made me feel so I knew I didn't want to be on it too long. When I got to the place where I woke up one morning and wanted to kill myself, I knew I needed additional help. I'm so grateful that in my darkest moment I knew I needed to address the root cause of the anxiety and learn techniques to overcome it. I started seeing a great Therapist, began practicing Mindfulness and Christian Meditation, set boundaries to protect my mental and emotional wellness, I started eating a high fat diet to ensure my brain was getting healthy fats and taking high quality supplements to support my brain health, I began practicing Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra and lost 15lbs. My life changed so substantially that I decided to become a meditation facilitator. Seven years later I'm so grateful to help people that struggle with chronic stress and help them develop mental and emotional wellness habits that they can utilize daily.
Creating a lifestyle of wellness means seriously evaluating if what you're doing now is working for or against you. It requires unlearning to learn, many have to overcome misconceptions about meditation, (I'm a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so I had several people tell me I was wrong by meditating, although the Word of God says to "pray and meditate" but that's a conversation for another day). Living a lifestyle of wellness has allowed me to be aware of my emotions and understand that I don't have to deny them to get past them. A thought may come but I don't have to offer it a cup of tea, feed it dinner and make a bed for it to spend the night. Don't allow any thought to go unchecked, you have the ability to allow thoughts that don't serve you well to pass on, just like the stinky, nasty garbage truck on a hot August day, let it pass.
Here are a few of my tips to live a lifestyle of wellness:
1. No is a complete sentence. It's perfectly ok to say no to something you really don't want to do.
2. Rest. Rest and sleep are two different things. Resting is planning time to do nothing but take care of yourself, whatever that is for you.
3. Take social media breaks and live in the present.
4. Eat mindfully.
5. Get restful sleep. Two hours before you go to bed log off of social media or internet surfing, the light from your cellphone or computer screen interrupts your brain's ability to signal its nighttime and time to wind down. Avoid serious or stressful conversations before bedtime. Meditate, pray, chant or practice a brief Yoga Nidra to calm your mind and body.
6. Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.
7. Create healthy boundaries.
8. Encourage yourself daily through meditation, prayer or affirmations. Science has proven the story we tell ourselves over and over again become our self fulfilling prophecy.
9. Surround yourself with loving, caring, nurturing friendships and relationships.
10. Move. Walk, dance, swim, practice yoga or pilates, whatever works for you, move!
In all you do, do it in love.