Being "well" takes work. I don't think it's something that just happens, not in the truest sense of the word. Too often people completely take for granted being well......or even forget what it feels like to be truly well and end up mistaking mediocre for wellness.
Well: adjective /wel/
The sense of being well is different for each individual, I doubt that what well looks like for me would be good enough for some and for others, sadly, it would be a welcome relief. Well, for the individual is when that person is performing and feeling at their optimum levels in life. What that looks like varies from person to person but I'm sure at the basic level, they are more similar than different. We want to be satisfactorily rested, as free from illness or pain as possible, content with our sense of self, our relationships and our surroundings. There is inner well being and a physical well being....they both need attention.
When various conditions enter into the equation, the solution changes. For me, there is a lot that goes into wellness. As a child who was always sick, illness is no stranger. I was a regular patient at Mayo Clinic for many years with an autoimmune condition.....all of my teen years, actually. A few years into that I was in a car accident that left me with permanent damage to my brain and my body. Pain, is no stranger either. A year or so after having my son, I began to develop symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), something that seems to have been passed down the line on my mom's side of the family. A few years after that, food became the enemy and affected nearly every system in my body. I wrote more about that here.
What I've learned keeps me well...
Sleep. I learned that my brain needs a sufficient amount of sleep in order to function clearly. When I don't get enough it's hard to stay focused. I feel like I'm in a fog and everything is moving slowly. Is this common for everyone? Sure. But for me, even at optimum levels all across the board, I have to put real effort into focusing on any one thing. Conversations, take concentrated effort...so I prefer written communications because people deserve the best of what I have to offer. Those venues allow me the ability to articulate things more clearly by taking my time, choosing my words carefully and being able to actually think about not only what to say but how to say it. Words matter and I find that I use the wrong ones more often when I can't really think about things. In order to really think, I need sleep.
Diet. What I eat matters a great deal. I cannot eat blindly or without thought. Not just because I'm trying to lose weight but because everything I put into my body has the ability to either nourish or hurt. There is no in-between for me. Whole, nourishing and mostly organic. I've cut out most meat and added more and more veggies and fruit. I can feel a difference. When temptation hits and I want sweets...MnM's, cake, a beer, pop, fast food.....I have to stop and think. Those indulgences have a price.....not only on the scale but I pay with pain and time. I need to drink lots of water, not too much diary - IBS and dairy are not the best of friends. Not too much bread but when I do, only whole grain, no corn products, nothing "enriched" (that word does not mean what you think it means - it's not a positive word in your food). Fresh, REAL food. The things a body was meant to consume. There were no Doritos trees in the garden of Eden. There were no burger trees or french fry trees. There were no plants with packets of powder to add to things. Eat as if your only resources were the earth itself. If man hadn't stepped in and tried to make things
cheaper, lazier, more profitable, worthless, "easier" we would eat from gardens and local farmers. We wouldn't be listening to people tell us that protein was SO essential that we ate WAY too much of it and found any possible way to shove it into our bodies in forms that are not natural. We would eat when we were hungry and only until we were full.....because we wouldn't be eating food that blocked the receptors in the brain that tell you "stop eating, you're full". If it's processed, powdered, something you can't grow, pick or kill - I don't eat it.
Stress. Stress triggers a great many things. IBS is triggered by stress. My brain doesn't function well under stress. When my brain doesn't function well, I don't make good decisions about eating which triggers reactions in my brain, joints, muscles and IBS. Stress is not good for anyone. For me, it just makes a lot of things more complicated. I manage stress a few ways...one is to make sure that our calendar does not get filled up with things to just be busy. Relationships flounder when there is too much going on. When people are always in a hurry relationships float at the surface, there's no time for real conversations or even time to think, feel or know how you really feel about anything. "Fine" becomes the answer to how you are because you haven't had time to identify how you are. Is that what life is? Being too hurried to connect to the people you love? Too rushed trying to accomplish "things" and "tasks" that "should" be done? I read a phrase many years ago in a book that changed my way of thinking. I don't remember much of the book but the one phrase made an impact: You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. And I do. Hurry serves no good purpose. Eliminating it, keeps stress in check.
Exercise. Okay I totally admit that I don't like this one. BUT I confess that I know that I feel better when I am regularly active. I don't enjoy working out at all but I know that exercise is very good for people with IBS, it helps to flush toxins out of the body faster which is very good for my food issues. I have some limitations here because my arms never fully recovered from the months of being incapacitated by food reactions. I don't have the strength in my hands that I once did. If I overexert the connections in my hands and arms it is painful....not always right away but later, being completely still will be my only comfort. It's been hard to know, and I'm still learning this, what my max is. Its hard to know how much is too much when there is no immediate reaction or sign to alert me. So I move. Not aggressively, not in a way that many would even consider a significant workout but for me, it works. It keeps me feeling good, moving forward in weight-loss goals and most of the time, without pain.
Vitamins and supplements. I take a lot.
My health and wellness depend on this more than I ever realized it would. When I run out of an essential, I am more susceptible to illness, pain, brain fog and food reactions. High doses of Magnesium keep my IBS in check and my muscles relaxed. Vitamin D helps in our climate for energy and boosts the immune system - I don't consume a lot of dairy and don't care for sunbathing so I have experienced significant deficiency here, thus a daily dose in the winter with smaller doses in the summer. I take a high potency Vitamin B complex which helps avoid nerve pain, boosts immunity, great neurological benefits and when I don't take this I notice a nearly uncontrollable desire to eat. It also has mood boosting, PMS busting benefits! Folic Acid helps to balance the B complex as well as makes your hair and nails healthy. Taurine works with neurotransmitters...basically people who are highly sensitive to MSG/Manufactured Glutamate benefit from taking this regularly. Evening Primrose Oil nourishes joints, muscles, skin and inflammation. Echinacea boosts immunity and healing. Calcium keeps my muscles from twitching and all the regular bone health and such. Green tea for energy and antioxidants. When I need them I take White Willow Bark and Bosweilia for pain. When I miss a dose, I feel the difference....sometimes it's only that I don't feel as well as I could, other times I get sick or experience some other negative effect.
Attitude. I strongly believe that attitude is significantly linked to wellness. There is NO reason to dwell on the negative. None. Attitude is a choice. Free will is so much more than only the choice to believe in God or turn your back on Him. We have a choice in how we receive information. We have a choice in how we move through life. You can have a negative experience and still have a good day! Choose it! You can endure pain and still be joyful! There is always something good to focus on. I choose to not give weight to any limitation in my life. I forget things, so? I experience pain quite often, so what? The Lord blessed me with a high tolerance for it so I'm equipped to handle it. I can choose to be bitter about the things in my life or my past or I can choose to embrace the moment I'm in, the place in life I'm in and see all the amazing things. Sure, some days stress gets to me and I'm not so positive. I'm human. More often than not though.....I'm going to choose joy. I choose to smile. I choose to look for the lovely...because it can always be found.
Faith. The Lord has brought me through a great many things in my life. He has made me wiser from them. Better, deeper, richer for it. He is my constant companion, I am never alone. Without Him I would be a different story. More than likely I wouldn't be here to tell that story either. He has saved me in more ways than I can count, carried me through more pains and illnesses that I thought would destroy me. Refined by fire. He brings me out the other side of each trial stronger for it......and in His amazing and brilliant, glorious way, He always puts someone right in front of me who needs to hear the story. That they aren't alone and someone else understands. He shows them that He offers healing and joy and proof that the past can be left behind. It IS possible to heal and stand tall, the past doesn't always have to hurt, nor does it have to be forgotten. The past is past....it can't hurt you unless you chose to hold on to the hurt. There is freedom in letting go. Freedom in His love and mercy and presence in the here and now. He is always good, always perfect, always loving. He makes me well.
There is a lot that goes into being well. I don't always get it right. I screw up a lot. I make bad choices and have to pay for them. Though the act of putting thought into what it really takes to BE well, may just be one of those things required to maintain being well....
Blessings of wellness and freedom to you,