The last few months have felt really heavy for me.
This isn’t easy to admit.
Why? Because my whole message is all about how to live on the lighter side of life.
So how can my personal life not be light?
I was trying to preach all the right things.
Make sure you get enough movement, eat nutritious food, go to bed early…and clear the clutter from your life.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, the results are always in the follow-through. So what was I doing? Where did I go wrong? Instead of using our new COVID-19 reality as an opportunity to slow down and reflect, without being aware of it, I sped up. My already long days became longer and I didn’t give myself a full day off—I barely managed even a morning off. Even though I love what I do, my body decided to tell me that it had had enough.
Spinning walls, intense nausea, and a loud buzzing in my ears showed up out of nowhere—and the scariest part was that I didn’t know how to make any of it stop. The symptoms drove me to my bedroom in the middle of an afternoon back in March. Thankfully the next day I woke up feeling fine. So what did I do? I dove right back into my work feeling the additional stressor of “now being behind.”
Clearly I didn’t learn the lesson I was meant to learn as the same symptoms hit me over and over again as the weeks went by.
Finally, I came to the realization that things needed to change. I created my team—an acupuncturist, a PT, an ENT doctor, my parents for moral support, and my husband and kids for extra hugs and kisses.
As the leader of my new team, I asked myself, If this happened to one of my clients, what would I say? What would we do? And it hit me hard that it was time for a life cleanse. Not a typical cleanse where one tries to eat very little and down a bunch of shakes. I didn’t want a band-aid, I wanted something much more meaningful and lasting.
So I thought about my definition of the word wellbeing. Because that’s what I wanted to re-capture, my wellbeing—which to me is what we’re left with after removing the emotional, mental & physical clutter of life. Wellbeing is recognizing and connecting to all feelings and desires. It’s getting off of autopilot and being honest about what we’re thinking, feeling, and doing. It’s about learning how to open the door to our inner selves.
What else? It’s about being mindful of our bodies when they start talking to us—stopping and listening and being ever-present to the messages right in front of us.
I created a new regime and after a week of fully embracing it I’m delighted to share that I feel like myself again—happy, light, enthusiastic and focused. I recognize the true gift it is to take care of ourselves well so that we can show up for the things that matter most. For me, those things are my family and clients.
Would you like to feel lighter, brighter, and happier? Start by thinking about your personal definition of wellbeing. Next, focus on the five categories and my corresponding questions below:
- Nutrition – Over the years I’ve overcome both my weight and autoimmune issues by being very intentional with my food choices. Any FOMO (fear of missing out) I’ve experienced has been successfully flipped to JOMO (joy of missing out). I don’t eat gluten, grains, and dairy, and this doesn’t bother me because what I do eat are a lot of delicious vegetables, fats, proteins, and fruit. I eat mouthwatering grain-free cakes on all the holidays and a few of the days in-between. So now let me ask you, Do the foods you eat make you feel lighter or heavy? Happy or sad? Is it time to raise your standards on what you’ll consume?
- Sleep – The recommendation from the Institute for Functional Medicine is to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. So I’m doing what I can—using dark curtains, wearing blue-light blockers for the 2 hours before I go to bed, and relaxing with my journal instead of social media in the evening. What about you? What tweaks can you make to your sleep hygiene?
- Movement – I’ve always loved to move my body via walking, mountain biking, and backyard soccer with my two grade-school boys. However, with my recent bouts of unsteadiness making me feel like I am standing on a moving bus, I have shied away from exercise. Thankfully, with each day I feel significantly better so I know I’ll be graduating from stretching and playing darts to my previous exercises within the next few days. Your turn…What does movement look like in your own life? Is there enough of it?
- Relationships – The people around you matter. Would you describe them as supportive and fun? Do they lift you? Are they striving to be the best versions of themselves? Do they have dreams and are they going after them? These are the types of people I surround myself with and you should too!
- Stress Transformation – Bottled stress will not only manifest emotionally but through physical symptoms as well. To transform our stress we need to clear the mental clutter in our heads, the emotional clutter in our hearts, and physical clutter in our homes. How do you know if something is clutter? If it’s weighing you down—mentally, emotionally, or physically, it’s clutter. So tell me, is it time to shed some of that extra weight—time to release the clutter?
With a renewed focus on these steps, each day I feel better. I’m choosing to see the gift that I am not who I was just a few short weeks ago. I’ve evolved and matured and have an even greater appreciation for life—all of it. I trust that the spinning walls, loud buzzing in my ears, and intense nausea don’t need to be more than one paragraph of my life book. These latest symptoms won’t define me or my potential—just like my prior weight and autoimmune conditions didn’t get to define me either.
I am on a different path than I was a few months ago. I’m letting go of the things that weren’t serving me and I’m taking the time to smell the flowers. When I come to another fork in the road, because I will, I’m choosing to trust that either path will be filled with beauty, purpose, and grace. This is the human experience —life is 50/50, half good/half bad—no matter who you are. Sure I’ve experienced some bad over the last few weeks, but I’ve also experienced lots of good. Overall life is getting back to feeling pretty light.
Would you like to lighten things up? Know that your mind, body and spirit are doing the best they can with the inputs given. Perhaps it’s time to embrace your own life cleanse?
About the Author: Heather Aardema is a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach living in Colorado with her husband and two grade-school boys. You can find more of her essays focused on growing healthy and living fully at RootofWellbeing.com.