You know the saying, “When life throws you lemons..." and your clever friends answer, “Screw the lemons and bail!” or “Add some vodka and let’s party!” Back in acupuncture school, I was getting lemons on the regular. When I would get home from a 9-hour day of dealing with patients, sitting on my butt listening to lectures for hours, I had to come home and take care of myself and THEN do more work!! I couldn't do yoga because I hurt so badly and I needed yoga to function. I became pretty depressed at that point because my body couldn’t do what I needed it to do.
I couldn’t admit all of the things piled in my life were causing all of this. Stress on stress on stress, regardless if you’re recognizing how much weight you've piled on, will catch up with you quickly. So what do I do? It used to take me a long time to get out of these funks, and it’s still not easy, but it happens a lot faster now and I bounce back much more quickly: I go back to my wellness principles. I think about the most BASIC things I can do in my life to bring about better balance, and I focus on those things.
Now I’m not talking about going on a juice-fast, or leaving for a 10-day meditation retreat, signing myself for a 30-day yoga practice at a studio, not drinking ‘til New Years – I’m talking about EASY. I’m talking like telling myself to go drink a glass of water. Go to sleep an extra hour early. Take a bath instead of going out to a bar for a drink. Watching a movie and crying and making myself a well-balanced meal. When things get bad, I do basic things, and I do them one at a time so that it’s doable. ‘Cause you’re bound to fail if you set this thing up for yourself that is unreachable.
My wellness principles came about as a post-New Years practice that I wanted to engage in for 100 days. Did I do all of them for the full time? Nope! And that’s okay. I just kept going back to the basics each day and starting over.
Ask yourself some questions to get your own list:
- What can I do to support myself daily? What are my wellness principles? Think about when you start to feel low - what do you do? Go dancing, run, scream into a pillow, eat a pint of ice cream, listen to really loud music… Write them down.
- Of those things, what SUPPORT you and bring you closer to your goals and make you feel good. Like, as much as I love coffee, when I drink a little less caffeine, my hands don't shake as much when I am in clinic touching and needling patients - so I cut back a little. My brain doesn't feel as scattered - I am more centered.
Here are some of my basic wellness principles:
- Chew my food. When I sit down to eat, I try to focus on what I’m eating, breathe, chew. Not a lot of extra noise, t.v., radio.
- Drink water and herbal tea all day long. When I start to feel out of balance and tired, I drink less coffee and hydrate myself. Wake up and have a glass, drink in between meals.
- Sleep by 10 or so. I try to wind down a bit earlier, turn off all devices and allow my body to be in darkness and rest. This was a hard one - I was always a night owl, but I feel so
much better when I get in bed before 10 now. (But still, I'm sometimes on Instagram or whatever 'til 11, and it's okay! I don't beat myself up about it)
- Eat whole foods. Nothing processed. Grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, sea vegetables, meat, broth. Things that nurture my body and have no extra junk. (I do love some tortilla chips though...)
- Do the opposite of what I’m craving to do – if I’m exhausted, sometimes I’ll make myself go for a walk or exercise, because I know I’ll feel better afterwards. Instead of eating that ice cream bar, I'll make a bowl of miso soup. It's oddly satisfying!
And the last important bit: Why?? Why do this in the first place? Because I feel more clarity throughout my day. There is more room in my life for the good stuff. When I see patients, they know that I am doing my best to live healthy and happy and that makes me feel good - that is my goal. I feel like I’m on a path that serves something larger than myself. Winning.