The past year I have gone through some very significant and traumatic life events. I was hospitalized, lost a pregnancy, got Covid, and many other negative life events I’d rather not list. To cope, I was taking prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications and attending bi-weekly therapy sessions. I was over my desired weight, tired, suffering from chronic back pain, and extremely uncertain of my future.
However, this year has also been a year of positive changes. I have re-enrolled in grad-school, obtained a job that allows me to work from home most days, started a daily meditation practice, lost weight, healed from trauma, stopped counting calories, sleep better most nights, stopped weighing myself daily, fixed my back pain, no longer need prescription medications, and reduced my anxiety to almost non-existence most days. But how?
I can say the the positive changes did not happen all at once and are not somehow attributable to my external environment. Currently, my weeks consists of about 70 hours working for my day job (48 hrs), working at my internship (16 hrs), and going to class (4-5 hrs). I have an elderly parent that I am a caregiver for, my son is an energetic and demanding 6-year-old, and my spouse struggles with some pretty acute mental health disorder(s). My role in our household necessitates high levels of calm, patient energy. I see clients in a mental health care setting treating a variety of mental health disorders, help with daily housework, utilize my gym membership, and cook 95% of my meals. I have very little free time and a pretty high level of stress in my life on a daily basis.
So how am I med free, generally calm and anxiety free, and able to do all these things every week? I have pursued a relentless, multifaceted goal of health and wellness in mind, body, and soul. Through a lot of trial and error, I seem to have found a combination that works well for me.
- The Mind: Get a daily meditation and mindfulness practice. On my journey to wellness, I have historically disregarded the importance of meditation and mindfulness. “Yeah yeah, that’s nice for people with time for those things.” The single most significant change and investment I have made in myself has been committing to practicing mindfulness and meditation as frequently as possible. It happened somewhat on accident. I had long hours at my job that I decided to fill with audiobooks. I started listening to book about mindfulness, awareness, and meditation. I learned about the science behind our brains, our thoughts, and our emotions. I learned that I have a lot more control over how I experience my life than I ever knew. Eight months after I started learning about meditation and mindfulness practices, I am just now able to say that I am in a well established daily meditation practice. Fits and starts mark my meditation journey, but I am so happy and grateful that I kept returning to incorporating it in my routine.
- The Body: Eat and move to feel good and energized. I have tried a lot of “diets” since I was in high school. I have not found any single one that allowed me to feel amazing and get rid of my constant hunger cravings until I read a book called The Bulletproof Diet. It’s one of many versions of the ketogenic diet that encourages keto and carb cycling. This diet has been a big change for me as I have been vegetarian/vegan for most of my life. However, I found a wonderful book called Ketotarian, and I recommend it to anyone interested in eating food as fuel and medicine. I have lost weight without trying, no longer have constant hunger pangs and sugar cravings, don’t count calories, eat as much as I want until I’m full, and I am able to utilize intermittent fasting (IF) with ease and no unpleasant side effects. I can tell when I eat something that makes me feel like crap and/or bloated, and I learn from it. I eat foods that make me feel good. I enjoy eating and not eating! All the stress around food, dieting, calories, and my weight has completely changed to an intuitive way of eating that leaves me satisfied, relaxed, unworried about the scale, and most importantly, free.
- The Spirit: Do more things that fill your cup, feed your soul, and drive your passion(s). The spiritual aspect of life is not completely foreign to me. My father was a pastor when I was young. Yes, I was the kid who lived in the house next to the church. Since some rather tumultuous times in high school, however, I have not been particularly spiritual in an manner. Returning to form a new understanding of what spirituality means to me is a long, rather difficult process, but it is an endeavour that is vital to my health and wellbeing. For now, I try to get outside in nature as often as possible, and I treat my mediation practice with reverence and respect. Currently, I utilize three meditation apps: Calm, FitMind, and InsightTimer.
It’s also important to note that I have made getting enough sleep every night a top priority. After learning about all the chemical interactions that are constantly going on in the brain and realizing just how important rest and detoxification of the brain is during sleep, I made several adjustments to my bedtime routine to ensure I get quality sleep every night. I will go in to these bedtime routine tips in another blog post.