Truth: There is an abundance of information all over the Internet on ways to take better care of yourself. I’m writing on the topic today because I’ve found three ways that work for ME, a survivor of a painful past. They are simple, but I’m sharing them because simple doesn’t always mean easy, and because they are simple but I didn’t do any of them for a very long time, which prolonged the healing I’ve had to date. So, please read the what AND the why.
There is this endless cycle wherein if I feel bad physically, I don’t take very good care of myself, which leads to feeling bad emotionally and mentally, which leads to feeling worse physically, which leads to…well, you get the point.
At this start of this year, after spending most of last year in counseling, I decided it was time to not just be a survivor but actually thrive. I started off small and have been growing from there. These are the top three things I’ve been doing that have helped tremendously.
1 – Eat healthy.
The first thing I want to do when I’m upset is grab something that is bad for me, something that will end up making my stomach hurt, or my hands shake, or my head spin. Too much coffee (which usually means too much sugar and creamer, too), too many chips, sweet cereals, cheap but oh-so-bad fries (tasty but just so so so bad), and on and on. The more junk I shove in, the more I want. And as I keep eating that way, the less I want to do anything else. Eating better leads to sleeping better, which can help raise energy levels and emotional states of mind.
2 – Exercise.
Once you’ve started eating healthier, you are likely going to be more inclined to get moving. You don’t have to go out and run a marathon. Just start moving. Walk around the block, do 10 jumping jacks, stretch, whatever – just move. Take it five minutes at a time. As you begin to move more, your mind becomes clearer, you might sleep even better, and overall, you’ll feel energized and less inclined to go back to eating in unhealthy ways. Even better, exercise really does release endorphins that make you feel good. I am often able to walk out a headache and a bad mood.
3 – Do. Not. Isolate.
In recent years, I’ve had to cancel my membership with Hermits of America. I reached a point where I stopped holing up at home and I let people into my life and into my heart. And to nourish those relationships, I had to actually leave my house. And a wonderful thing happened: I wanted to be around people, and they wanted to be around me. This was a huge change from the lies I’d been telling myself that I was no good, that people would only be my “friend” if they could get something from me. Essentially, I wasn’t worth being loved by others. But by letting them in, I found it got easier and easier to be loved, to not live relationships in fear, and to know that if I crawled back into my hole of isolation, I’d miss out on beautiful moments.
Eating better, exercising, and being with people sounds just as simple as I said it would, right? Then why are so many of us missing out? Why are so many who want to heal and thrive hiding away at home, living unhealthy physical and emotional lives? Because, as I said, simple isn’t easy.
So I encourage you today to take one step. Just one. Trade out a candy bar for an apple. Walk around the block. Just one block. Call a friend. Don’t have a friend because you’ve pushed them all away? Time to open your heart and step out – join a group, go to the gym, say hi to your neighbor, make eye contact with your cashier. Friends are everywhere, waiting to love you.
One step at a time.