I've been wanting to write about wellness for a few weeks now, but I wasn't quite sure how to begin.
Because wellness is such a broad term. It can mean so many different things to every person. For me, I define wellness as good physical and mental health, which I sustain with clean and nutritional eating, LOTS of exercise, and healthy behaviors and habits.
I want to tell you something too, that I don't share with many. Some of you readers know that, about 4 years ago, due to the wrong anti-depressant being prescribed by my (then) family doctor, I started to have suicidal thoughts going along with a crippling anxiety disorder. I was having severe panic attacks, sometimes twice a day, and then I couldn't eat or sleep. For 3 days. I started to hallucinate. It was the scariest time of my life. Pregnancy and childbirth? A piece of cake compared to this. I landed in the inpatient mental health unit at our local hospital for 4 days. My (current and amazing!) psychiatrist put me on the correct medication, which stopped the panic attacks, slowed the racing thoughts, and I was able to sleep again for the first time in 5 days.
I am not ashamed to share this. In addition to being a fitness professional, I also have a Masters degree in Counseling. Mental health is important to me, and I don't believe in there being any stigma surrounding it. Without those 4 days in the hospital, I wouldn't be where I am now: a strong, capable, coping, content and happy member of society. I just happen to have a diagnosed mental illness that I take a medication for daily.
It was a slow process, getting back to who I really was. But what I learned during that 6 or 8 weeks following was that I had the capabilities to learn how to cope with my anxiety disorder. I also learned there is no shame in taking a pill every day that keeps my mood level, and allows me to parent, hold a job I am passionate about, care for a household, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, take care of MYSELF.
I have a client who is very near and dear to me. She came in for her session this week and spilled the beans of how she is thinking of making some huge changes in her life so that she can better care for herself and her family. While I know my values and opinions of what she is thinking of undertaking have no measure on her decision, I couldn't help but have my heart swell for her when she told me her thoughts. Why? Because she was putting herself first. Personally, I feel that, as women, we get to a point somewhere in our 30's, where we take off the rose-colored glasses of what we feel we SHOULD be doing. For many of us, that means being Super Woman. And trust me: we aren't. There is only so much we are capable of. But here's the thing: we have to figure out what is most important. We must prioritize. And delegate. And for fuck's sake, we gotta let it go.
I know that I can't be everything to my daughter and my husband. Being a work-from-home mom, there are things I do on a daily basis that I have figured out how to do because it makes the flow of our day so much easier. So what my daughter watches Sofia the First or Up! or Zootopia one after the other after the other so I can get my workout in? Or unload the dishwasher or vacuum or whatever? My daughter is happy and healthy and fed and bathed and is LOVED and cared for and, to me? That is all that matters. I have given up trying to have a spotless house, or dogs that have been brushed. I have pretty much given up on the yardwork for the season. But you know what? I don't care. Because I KNOW I can't do it all.
So I do what I CAN, and I do it well. Like parent my daughter. Love my husband. And my dogs. I work hard at my job as a health and fitness professional, and I care for my clients with the best service I have.
And the last piece, is I take care of ME. I eat well (with the occasional indulgence), I exercise every day. I hydrate, I use sunscreen, I moisturize. I take my daily anti-depressant and my multivitamin and my asthma medication. I allow myself time to do things for ME. Like play a computer game, or write, or binge-watch Netflix. And I try to get a lot of sleep. Now, if someone would like to get my 2-year-old to stop waking up in the middle of the night, I would be forever in your debt.
So the moral of this story? In blunt terms, get your shit together. Start caring for YOU, in whatever way that applies. Wellness will come when you do, I promise.