Last updated on March 20th, 2021 at 10:32 am
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, this is my personal experience and it worked for me.
We live in a time where wellness is becoming a priority, but it’s still a struggle to figure out. Between unlearning bad habits while trying to create new ones, many people don’t know where to start. Even the term wellness is broad.
That’s why it’s important for you to define it for yourself.
I did, and doing so helped me create the changes I wanted to see (it’s a lifelong journey though).
As someone who struggled with the lows in life, wellness was always a priority. But being consistent was challenging.
Soul-searching for answers, I picked up my first self-help book in the 6th grade. I just remember reading Yesterday, I Cried and somehow relating to it without knowing the totality of Iyanla Vanzant’s pain.
But I felt agony, loneliness, despair. What was going on with me?
My spiraling 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. My body felt like it didn’t belong to me. Most mornings I’d curl up in bed not able to get up.
I needed outside help.
Eventually I found out it was depression and anxiety. So I thought I could read, pray, and exercise it away, but my body resisted.
Was I broken?
Medicine could have worked as a short-term fix—but I refused to. Something in me knew my pain was curable, or at least manageable. I wanted to get to the root cause so badly, 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, changing my diet, strong friendships, inconsistently working out, attempts at meditation, and seeing various therapists.
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 by taking control of my own health.
Focusing on the interconnectness of it all, changed my mindset. Soon I realized this is a continuous journey of working on myself despite the highs and lows.
If I wanted things to change, I had to gradually take steps to do so. 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. Ailments don’t happen overnight, so the healing process won’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 was contributing to 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 being in nature, to experiencing trauma. I couldn’t just focus on one, but multiple aspects.
No wonder I struggled to find a solution 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 cycles and work through my everyday problems, which were actually a part of a bigger issue.
My therapist suggested holistic methods on top of talk therapy, such as earthing and taking ashwagandha an herb to help with anxiety.
All this was much needed, and 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 a lack of good gut bacteria which will weakened an 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 encourage 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 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 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 a decline in my overall health. 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 places with 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.
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. It requires you to find methods that work specifically for you.
Have you jump started your wellness journey?