A couple of years ago, I began to realise that the resilience I once had towards stressful situations in life began to turn into high levels of anxiety, which would often result in months of endless insomnia. Tired of feeling lethargic for days on end, the first step to changing and maintaining my health and well-being included keeping an eye out for situations that would trigger anxiety in me. I began to pay close attention to the physical manifestation of symptoms that would arise in those situations, which enabled me to reflect on the root cause of the issue and gain a deeper understanding into why it would have an impact on me. This became the start of breaking the cycle and focusing on improving my mental well-being.
I found that it was vital to accept that it was okay to feel overwhelmed at times, and that this did not equate to being weak. Instead, being in tune to one’s emotions and fighting through feelings of unease to actively make positive progress is quite courageous – and we aren’t told this enough! Acknowledging my emotions and physical symptoms not only allowed me to search for techniques to combat those moments of difficulty, but enabled me to speak openly about my struggles with friends and family. It took a conversation with a friend to realise that anxiety is much more common than we think, and that creating a space where such conversations are welcomed can be incredibly empowering. You realise that you’re not alone, and that in itself can have a positive impact on an individual’s health and well-being. It definitely did for me.
While a great support network is useful, it is still imperative to learn what you can do to maintain your own well-being. For me, it was the realisation that I could say “No.” occasionally, and that I didn’t need to be around people who would disrespect my personal boundaries. It was learning how to practice self-care and knowing when to put myself first. It was being able to sit and talk to God, open my heart, and come away with guidance and clarity. I realised that I was at my happiest when doing things that would bring me peace and allowed me to improve myself. For example, taking long walks surrounded by nature, sketching and painting, and practicing amateur photography – not to mention finally fixing a work-out routine that I didn’t get bored of!
Throughout my journey, I’ve realised that maintaining my health and well-being isn’t something that can be forced overnight. It’s a slow process, and there are often times where I fall back into the same old cycle. But I’ve learned what works for me, I’ve made progress, and I know that I will continue to by taking small steps to keep on improving.