While out for my first run in nearly two months today, I had a thought that God has been really forcing me to take a look at the things that are important in my life over the last few months, and figure out how to maintain balance and perspective in the midst of utter chaos. The reality is, I’ve failed miserably in keeping my health up during the last few years. In the midst of far too high stress levels, an emotionally abusive and now failed marriage, starting a business and becoming a mom, I stopped doing the things I knew would keep me healthy and thriving. I didn’t make the opportunity to get adjusted and take care of my body the way I should have. I didn’t have the emotional capacity or energy to exercise regularly or eat well. While learning the ropes of being a pseudo-single entrepreneurial mom, and now a fully single entrepreneurial mom, I lacked the ability to take time for myself and create balance in my life.
In short, I didn’t do a very good job of practicing what I preach. As a result, this spring absolutely everything fell apart. My marriage, my emotional barriers that had kept me numb, and my body all imploded around the same time. The result has been nearly two months out of the office, and being unable to do even the most basic things like clean my house, change my sons diaper, take a shower or cook. With the inability to do much of anything came a huge learning curve in needing to ask for help and redefining where my health, well-being and stress relief comes from. I found myself with none of my stress relieving outlets (running, playing my violin, or writing), and just a few things to be stressed about.
The last few months have done a lot to teach me how to find and maintain health again. And to do so in the future no matter what life throws at me. While it’s been a rough ride, it’s also been a blessing in disguise. On my run today, I came up with five things that I now consider absolutely vital to staying healthy, active and capable in my life. They are probably not what you’re expecting, and I hope they serve to inspire some of you to take things to the next level this year and get back the life balance and health we were all born to have!
Spend time with God: During my time of being unable to utilize any of my normal stress relieving activities due to my wrist injury, one of the few things I could do was read. I found myself spending a lot of time in my bible during those weeks. And now I am in a well formed habit of reading daily when I first wake up and just before I go to sleep. No matter where you are in your walk with your faith, having a solid foundation and daily input of something empowering and uplifting is absolutely key to being healthy. For me, the input is God’s word.
Set rhythms: Schedule the things that are important, no matter how small they seem. I am someone who can chronically over-commit myself to a fault. Because of this I have started setting what I refer to as rhythms (a term coined by a business mentor of mine, Rick Sapio) to my day. I schedule the things I know I need to be doing to stay healthy, like reading my bible, working out, taking a shower, eating breakfast, date days with my son etc so that they always happen and I do not skip them. (Don’t worry, skipping a shower NEVER happens!) To some this may seem like over-kill, but I have found that putting these rhythms in place and not varying from them much keeps me on track and centered in my life.
Say No! Another thing I have been learning is to have a “values doorman” (another Rick Sapio term). This means to know what your values are in certain areas of life and to not make decisions that will compromise your values. This is also the gate-keeper for the rhythms I set for myself. Time with my son is a huge value for me. We have mommy dates scheduled at the same time each week and I make a point not to schedule anything else then. Taking time for myself is another important value for my overall health, so I have that set in my schedule at the same time each week. Our church small group. Time with friends. Time at work. They all have a rhythm in my life. What are your values and what things are you committing to that do not align with those values?
Circle of Influence: At a leadership retreat I used to help run while in chiropractic school, one of our presenters would usually end up talking about what is known as your circle of influence (a concept borrowed from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). The general concept is that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. You rank the people in your life with a +1 if they inspire you and push you to be a better version of yourself, a 0 if they are fun to be around but don’t really push you to be a better version of yourself, and a -1 if they drain your energy. For simplicity’s sake, I refer to +1’s as giants and -1’s as vampires. When you add up your circle of influence, you want the number to be positive rather than negative. I personally found that as I was navigating a very unhealthy and emotionally draining marriage, my circle of influence contracted and included far more negative than positive. I am still in the process of breaking free of the isolation that was created, and re-establishing and creating a positive circle of influence for myself. There is truth in the concept that surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and inspire you will help you grow into a healthier version of yourself.
Be selfish: As a mom and a doctor who considers it one of my gifts to care for and teach others, I can easily put everyone else’s needs before my own. I know I am not alone in this. However, this piece is absolutely essential to maintaining your health and well-being long term. If we don’t make time to take care of ourselves and meet our own needs first, what good are we to everyone else? I do not mean be selfish in a sinful way where you take and take and give nothing back. I mean be selfish in a way where you put your needs and your health as a priority, so that you are available and able to give back to those around you. This has been a difficult concept for me to learn, and I still struggle with it daily. However, it is very important.
So there we have it. The five keys I have been learning about in my journey to re-enter the world of health and overall well-being over the last few months. You probably expected things like get adjusted regularly, eat well, exercise 30 minutes a day, take your vitamins etc to be the keys I would discuss. While all of those things are of course important, unless you’ve successfully created a positive environment for yourself and are clear on what you need and what your values are, all of those things we “know” to do are just a recipe for failure. Since I got clear on the five keys listed above, my mental fortitude has improved and my energy has returned to allow me to engage in and prioritize the things I know to do to be healthy. I can now say I am growing towards mental, physical and spiritual health everyday. I can also say with full confidence that it is really true:
Always here for you,