This time last year I had completed a half marathon, was doing yoga a couple of times a week, working out at the gym and hitting the pavement with a running group every Saturday morning.
I was eating well, looking good and feeling pretty fantastic. I remember thinking, “I am at my peak, right now, in this moment.”
Then, about halfway through the year, my health took a turn for the worst — my energy levels went down, my hormones were all over the place, I was anaemic, incredibly moody, pimple-tastic, depressed and nursing a broken foot as well as a broken ego.
For a long time my health had been such an important part of my life and my lifestyle and then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t do anything that I loved. I couldn’t go for a run, I couldn’t go to the gym or go to a dance class. I couldn’t even leave my apartment without being overwhelmed by a feeling of fear and anxiety. I felt frustrated, angry, helpless.
But in the last year I’ve gone from a puffy, lethargic, red-faced mess to a fit ball of energy but it has been a long process, and I’m not quite there yet, but I thought it would be worth sharing what helped me along the way.
So if you’re feeling like crap, like there’s no hope, like you’ll never leave your bedroom, much less do another pump class ever again, then here’s a list of things that can help you stay grounded, motivated and calm until you’re feeling at your best again.
Taking the time to sit and breathe and quieten our thoughts can be pretty daunting. We’re so busy from day to day that most of us don’t give ourselves a real opportunity to just be. We’ve got work, school, kids, family, study, projects, plans, life. When do we have time to just chill out? Even if it’s for just 15 minutes every morning or before you go to bed, give yourself a moment to breathe. Make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breath, the movement of your belly, the rise and fall of your chest and be still. Sure, at first meditating is challenging and uncomfortable and almost unbareable. But the harder it feels, the more you need it.
When you’re unwell and unable to keep physically active it is incredibly important to take care of yourself through what you eat. Like Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We all have our comfort foods, but when you’re nursing yourself to good health and you’re in a vulnerable state, both physically and emotionally, it really makes sense to stay away from them. Instead, add as many fruits and vegetables to your diet as you can. Start the morning with a good few glasses of water and a juice. Create colourful and healthy dishes for lunch and dinner and get creative with treats.
We have the choice whether or not we want to listen to our bodies. Yoga helps with that awareness and with that ability to do what feels right for you. Even if we’re not feeling at our best, have an injury or just feel exhausted, most of us can still practise yoga. We can sit for the entire class if that is all we have the energy for. We can lie in savasana if that is what we feel like doing. No-one is there to judge us, where we’re at, what we’re doing, how well we can reach over and touch our toes.
Start a blog
Write your thoughts down and share your experiences with other people. Document how you feel, where you’ve been and where you’re going and then, down the track, you can look back on it and see how far you’ve come.
Listen to what your body is telling you.
Catch up with people who inspire you
When you feel down, generally the last thing you want to do is catch up with people. You generally what to wallow for a while, but that doesn’t really help and it eventually just becomes destructive. Get out there, cook a meal for someone you care about, pick up the phone and tell someone you love them, go visit your family, go out to dinner with people who make you laugh until you pee, go to the beach and sunbake topless, feel free and adventurous and carefree, alive and inspired. Take a risk and do something that you’ve never done before.
Volunteering your time to be with others who need help or love or support or just your company is one way to put things into perspective. Spend some time with the elderly or children or at a pet shelter. Connecting with others who are also feeling vulnerable really helps to make you feel okay about where you’re at.
Spend some time in nature. Go for a bushwalk, sit by a river or lake, watch a sunset or wake up early to watch it rise.
Being out in nature makes you feel more alive.
Be honest — with yourself, with the people around you, with those who mean the most to you. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt when you’re not at the top of your game and there are a lot of things to be learnt about yourself. But be honest with yourself when you’re discovering and learning and trying to figure out why this is happening; you don’t want to have to learn these lessons again down the track.
Accept where you’re at now and know that it won’t be like this forever. It might get better, it might get worse. Wherever you are and however you’re feeling, find a way to be okay with that and to see what lesson you are supposed to learn from it. For me, I learnt that I was a know-it-all workaholic with a superiority complex. Yeah, I said it. Feeling like crap gave me an opportunity to be vulnerable, to connect with people, to ask for help and to ultimately find out what I really want in life. Take this opportunity to slow down, to stop and to move forward with purpose.
More on health and fitness
A how-to guide to stressing less this silly season
Dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum
Leave a Comment