Last updated on February 20th, 2021 at 12:35 am
We live in a culture where wellness takes precedent, but it’s a struggle to figure out. Most of us are trying to unlearn bad habits and prioritize our health. But even with this recent societal shift, the term wellness is broad.
That’s why I had to define it for myself and look at how it was impacting me.
As someone who struggled with the lows in life, wellness was always a priority. But I kept falling short one too many times.
Whatever that means.
I picked up my first self-help book in the 6th grade, soul-searching for answers to the gut-wrenching pain lingering in me. I just remember reading Yesterday, I Cried and somehow relating to it without knowing the anguish of Iyanla Vanzant.
But I felt agony, loneliness, despair and wouldn’t have a name for it until my emotions got worse. This created a vicious cycle of unhealthy relationships, self-harm, dark thoughts, nonstop crying, staying in bed, and stress eating or lack thereof.
On top of the emotional distress, I began to feel physical pain that was unbearable in my upper abdomen. I noticed that worrying was a trigger, but sometimes I couldn’t see it coming. This made me feel terrible and out of control. Most mornings I’d curl up in bed without being able to get up.
I needed outside help.
Eventually, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but I wondered why my mind was resistant to healing. I was reading positive content, praying, and working out. That was enough, right?
Was I broken?
As a short-term fix, I could have taken medicine—but I refused to. Something in me knew my pain was curable, or at least manageable. I wanted to eradicate the root cause so bad, but the wish alone wouldn’t do it. I had to journey through it all to figure out what worked and didn’t.
Everyone has different needs.
It took over 10 years of trial and error, but I got through it by reading self-help books, strong friendships, inconsistently working out, attempts at meditation, and seeing various therapists.
Shoot, I still don’t have it mastered at 26, but what I know is that I can get through it by being more gentle with myself.
I had a desire to be better. To stop generational trauma, to form healthier relationships, to set boundaries, to live in my authentic truth. But most of this came from trying and failing and doing it again until I got it right.
I learned this through my ability to trailblaze and take control of my own health.
Doing so gave me the opportunity to concentrate on the interconnectness of it all. Soon I realized this is a continuous journey of working on myself regardless of the highs and lows in life.
Like I mentioned before, I didn’t want to take medicine, so I had to do a 180 with my lifestyle. This meant implementing natural ways of curing myself.
I paid close attention to my family dynamic, my interpersonal relationships, the food I was eating, and the environment I was in. This led me to journal my moods, realizing these were all factors in my well-being.
Through this process I made mistakes, and that’s ok.
I think just about anyone else would struggle through changing their lifestyle, given the circumstances. My ailments didn’t happen overnight, so the healing process wouldn’t either. I needed grace as I worked to reprogram myself.
A milestone in my journey was moving away from America. Which allowed me to step away from the environment that caused my depression, digestive issues, inflammation, excessive worrying, etc.
I say all this to say, EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED. From what I was putting in my body, to the lack of connecting with nature, to experiencing trauma. I couldn’t just focus on one, but multiple aspects.
No wonder I fell short in the past. I was looking for a quick fix instead of making sustainable changes. But I learned effective methods that worked along the way.
Here is what helped me:
Seeing a mental health professional.
I made a commitment to see a therapist for a year, regardless of feeling good or not. This allowed me to break the vicious cycles and work through my everyday problems, which were actually a part of a bigger issue.
My therapist suggested holistic methods of healing, such as connecting with nature by earthing and taking ashwagandha an herb to help with anxiety.
All this was much needed, but just having someone to talk to was therapeutic within itself.
She helped me to realize emotional patterns that were detrimental to me, which allowed me to dig deeper and look in the mirror. Had I only gone to therapy when ish hit the fan, I’d be deprived of the radical healing I’m doing.
Without therapy, I would have still uncontrollably struggled with anxiety. She coached me through lifestyle changes to significantly reduce my reaction to stress.
Paying attention to my body.
For years, I struggled with intense stomach aches that resulted from me being anxious. Later, I found out I had IBS and my lack of good gut bacteria weakened my immune system. I can attribute it to taking antibiotics and eating certain foods.
What people don’t realize is, your body is having reactions to foods to signal you to stop eating them!! Sugar, dairy, gluten were all triggers for me and amplified my negative emotions.
Sugar made me sluggish, dairy caused inflammation in my body and made me bloat, gluten had a negative impact on my skin and worsened my digestive system.
Your gut health is associated not only with your digestive system but also your mental health.
Paying attention to my body jump-started my healing. I increased eating fermented and probiotic rich foods. I also reduced my dairy intake, eating a mostly plant-based diet.
This helped restore my gut health and reduced inflammation in my body.
Moving my body.
It didn’t have to be going to the gym every day or intensive workouts; it was as simple as dancing.
I’ve made it a point to move my body and not keep stagnant energy in me.
· Dancing often increases my confidence.
· Hiking pushes past my limiting beliefs and shows me what I can do when I push myself.
· Getting Thai massages (which is a workout within itself) stretches my body and reduces physical tension.
This works for me more than any gym routine could, but the important thing was to move and be consistent.
Choosing to move my body means increasing my energy, but also strengthening my mental and physical.
Connecting with nature.
Being in nature helps my emotional and physical well-being by increasing my sense of gratitude. As humans, we are meant to connect with the very thing that gives us life.
· Oxygen from trees
· Water nourishes our bodies
· Sunlight gives us vitamin D (lack of it can cause depression)
· Soil literally keeps us grounded
Even if it’s just 5-10 mins a day, going outside and intentionally connecting with nature helps. Whenever I struggled to breathe (anxiety). I go outside barefoot and breathe in the crisp fresh air around me.
Figuring out root causes.
I have observed the root of what makes my emotions decline, what disrupts me physically and what doesn’t sit right with my spirit.
I took time to assess what was triggering me and what caused me to act out of character. I noticed patterns and tracked my moods consistently for 6 months to see.
I went an extra step and did a food diary to see if there was a correlation to what I was eating and how was feeling.
Through therapy, I could see what my emotional triggers were, through my observation I felt a difference in the food I was eating.
When I’m in certain environments or around certain people, I noticed a change in my mood. Specifically limited amounts of sunlight.
Again, your mind, body, and soul are connected. Wellness worked for me when I found solutions that were bigger than my regular — reading books, manifestation, and occasionally working out. These all saved me and strengthened my wellness journey.
Who would have thought something as simple as gluten was taken a toll on my mental state?
If you are working through finding a routine for you, you are NOT alone. This is a journey, not a destination, and it requires you to find methods that work specifically for you.
Have you jump started your wellness journey?