We all know what we need to do to stay healthy and in good shape, right? Eat well, sleep 7-9 hours a day, exercise regularly, stay hydrated, connect with our loved ones… the list could go on. And yet, knowing it does not drive us to doing it. It is so easy to deprioritize these important habits and the effort they entail. Instead, many of us carry on just getting through the days, weeks or months in whatever way we can.
Let me tell you my story. Last year I had a health crash. My body had been indicating for a while that something was going on and I had sensed it, but kept going as nothing `major’ seemed to be wrong. However one day, something so serious happened that I had no other option than to stop – what was my body trying to say? That moment was the start of a long journey where I have had to focus on my well-being, as never before.
First, I went to different doctors and had all sorts of tests. Everyone kept saying I was okay, “it is just stress”. But the thing was, I just could not lead my life anymore: My symptoms were so numerous that when combined, they paralyzed my life as I knew it. Months down the track, a friend of mine recommended functional medicine. I researched and immediately resonated with it. I found a functional medicine clinic where I was listened to deeply and tested thoroughly. When I received my diagnosis, I felt such a relief! I was a mess, but knowing precisely where I was a mess made all the difference. Everything made sense after that.
The good news was there was no permanent damage, and although I felt I could not perform as usual at the time, after three months of changing gears to focus on my health and well-being, I could begin to lead my life again. The roadmap to my recovery involved significant lifestyle changes, where the first thing I needed to do was to shift my mindset – to prioritize my well-being in my daily habits. The big scare months ago had shaken me deeply, so I was determined to make changes.
Now, seven months later, I can say that I have my health back. Feeling healthy again is a gift I appreciate immensely, and I protect more sacredly. I am learning to read subtle signs in my body and sense when something is off, instead of waiting for big, evident ones to trigger my action. A great take-away for me has been the experience that when it comes to my own well-being there is a lot within my control. Being aware of the many decisions I make every day that impact my well-being, I am now in a stronger position to act accordingly. And like many people on the planet, I already knew the right direction to follow… the game-changer was actually taking the steps deliberately and consistently.
My journey from this experience is far from over. There are many resources and experts that I am learning from, especially around the pillars of healthy nutrition, resting, exercise and spiritual well-being. And I am still monitoring my health and having ongoing treatment at the clinic. But here I wanted to share some deep personal learnings that sparked me to change my consciousness:
- Follow your intuition. Always. – If something feels ‘off’ to you, if your inner voice is telling you something then listen, trust your gut and go deep to get some answers. They might not come quickly, but they will come eventually if you are curious enough and give it time. Listen to the early signals your brain and body are giving you.
- Take accountability for your own well-being. – We are in charge of our own well-being! Doctors will help us, guide us, educate us, but the responsibility is ours. We need to start owning that space, and educating ourselves accordingly. We need to be deliberate about and responsible for our daily choices when it comes to our lifestyle, and the starting point is envisioning what we want for ourselves (and/or don’t want) and setting goals that will help us get close to our vision.
- Lean on your support network. – And if you don’t have one, build it. Look for practitioners who resonate with you – doctors, therapists, nutritionists, coaches, anyone you trust and choose to support you. And, more broadly, surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and know your value – friends, family, colleagues.
- Practice self-compassion every day. – Don’t overload yourself with perfectionism and high expectations. When it comes to well-being, taking small, consistent steps is what will get you to where you want to go. If one day you get off-track, then start over the next day.
- Everything is connected. – Body + mind + spirit. Frequently, something deeper underlies our physical symptoms that sits in the realm of Self. For me, it was not looking after myself properly – not standing my ground, setting boundaries, filling my space. I was focusing on being kind to others while being unkind with myself. There is a root cause for my lack of self-care, and because I had this wake-up call with my health, I am now exploring further this deeper layer of interconnectivity.
Most importantly, be mindful that this is your life, and you choose how to live it. Find a way to live where you feel the best you possibly can, in a sustainable way and in all aspects relevant to you. Pause, tune in and listen to the wisdom inside you.
Finally, I would like to leave you with a few questions for reflection: What is your inner voice telling you these days? Is anything feeling off? Where? How can you explore it further? Who can help you with this?
Authored by Valeria Torino, Program Mentor at GAIA Insights
If you would like to learn more about how GAIA Insights can help you, your teams and your organization to achieve sustainable balance, contact us.