2006 WAS A LOUSY YEAR! My husband… great love, passion and friend for 31 years died suddenly in February. Mom died in April and my father followed in October. The level of stress associated with my grief was off the chart! I thank God for the protective “brain fog” that accompanies great stress. I chose not to take the sedation or antidepressants that were so readily offered. The loss was great…the grieving understandable…the depression situational and even though I WAS IN THE FOG…I knew that I had a right to feel my sadness and wanted to work through it. I also knew that I was choosing a path that would take time, focus and faith…no quick fix! Family and friends, old and new, loved, encouraged and supported me. They didn’t always understand what I was doing or why, but they loved me unconditionally. Here I am January 1, 2011 having celebrated Christmas week and toasted the New Year in Paris, France with a very dear friend. I am thankful to be regaining health and happiness and look forward to my future. I am once again learning and growing…dreaming big dreams and living an anticipatory life… A NEW BEGINNING! It has been a long journey (4 years) and one that has required me to take charge and make big changes.
The day THE FOG LIFTED I had just finished writing the commercial real estate exam, put my pen down and looked at the clock. It was 2:55 p.m., February 7, 2007. It was the first anniversary of my husband’s death and I can remember thinking WHAT THE H— are you doing! At that moment I realized… Jamie was dead… the dream was dead. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted, but I knew that I did not want this. I was physically out of shape having gained 35 pounds from living on chocolate, cherry, marshmallow ice cream and not exercising. I was hypertensive; my cholesterol level and LDL/HDL ratio were unacceptable; sleep was disrupted. I did not like the way I looked or felt and I was mentally, emotionally and socially depressed. I no longer wanted to live in our marital home or the city that had been home for many years. Big changes were needed! Having taught basic human needs; health and wellness; stress and the impact on health, I knew it was time for me to apply the theories to my own life…to take control.
For those of you starting over and making big changes in your life, no matter what the motivation or reason, it is important to realize that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for your own health and happiness. Hold a mirror up and identify what you like about yourself and your life and what you don’t like and can reasonably change. Be prepared to move out of your comfort zone and remember, you didn’t get to where you are over night and it is going to take an honest assessment of self and one’s life, a plan, and a reasonable time frame to make the change(s). I suggest starting a journal and writing daily. Identify the changes you want to make; the actions you are going to take to accomplish your goals, and document your progress. This will keep you focused and give you a sense of accomplishment. I also find writing a great stress reliever.
In our search for personal health and wellness it is important to understand the concepts. Health is known to be a “dynamic, ever-changing process of trying to achieve individual potential in physical, social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions”. Wellness on the other hand is defined as “the achievement of the highest level of health possible in each of the dimensions”. In other words “Be All That You Can Be”. Another piece of theory that will be helpful in your quest for health and happiness was posed by Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist. His hierarchy of basic human needs offers a simplistic guide for prioritizing your health focus. The first level of the hierarchy includes the foundational needs which must be met for survival: breathing and circulation; fluids and foods; elimination; sleep and rest; exercise and recreation, and sexual release. These physical needs are the primary ones and this is where you begin your assessment. Identify the changes that you want to and can make; set realistic goals and times for completion, and identify the actions you are going to take. I needed to improve my diet and water intake; lose weight; change my sleeping pattern; begin an exercise program; rediscover my interests and engage in recreation, and attend to my SEXUAL RELEASE. It took work, determination and 2 years to achieve my goals in this primary area, but it was worth the effort. I am beginning this new life liking myself and being physically healthy. What are your weaknesses? What changes do you want to make?
The primal physical priorities are followed by:
Level 2: safety, security and trust needs;
Level 3: social and relationship needs and the need for love and belonging;
Level 4: self-esteem needs; and
Level 5:self-actualization/self-fulfillment needs.
“NEW BEGINNINGS” requires each one of us to address all of these areas with similar intent. We also need to learn to manage our stress. Sexual health and the impact on wellness; the effects of stress, and relationships will be discussed in future issues. Good Luck and Best Wishes!