As I write this, it’s September…a time of year when we set new routines and goals for ourselves. It’s also a time of year when we put some thought into our children and how best to set them up for success. In theory, this is all grand. However, I have been a mom and have worked with moms for long enough to know that what usually happens is we put everyone else’s needs before our own and end up stressed, overwhelmed, and a wee bit resentful. I see many people taking such exquisite care of their families while they run themselves into the ground, not taking time to take care of themselves. This is not a formula for success.
I’ve had almost 20 years of parenting experience and my kids and I know, I’m a far better mom when I prioritize myself and my 5 pillars of wellness. I spent so many years running around like my head was cut off, taking care of my kids and husband’s needs before my own. Sure, I would try to take care of myself, eating healthy 90% of the time and exercising but….I still didn’t feel how I wanted to feel. My energy was dragging, my moods were low and I was reactive towards my family. I started to realize that there was more to health than eating and exercise. My life experiences led me to a definition of wellness as having 5 pillars.
Five Pillars of Wellness
Each of the 5 pillars are crucial to our overall state of well being. If we neglect even one pillar for too long, we will suffer. Our suffering shows up as weight gain, general discontent, or aches and pains. If we neglect two pillars, our physical or mental health suffers and we may wonder why we’re always yelling or reactive. This is when many of us go on an anti-depressant. When we neglect three, your body will reward you by showing you it’s in dis-ease. This is when we get those auto-immune or cancer diagnoses. I got into coaching because in the middle of ending my marriage of 19 years while still trying to be super-mom, I had 32 seizures in one weekend. That is not a type-o. My body had sent me many warning signs, I had been to see many doctors and had countless tests: maybe it’s my thyroid? My gut? My Nope. It’s actually quite simple, when you neglect areas of your health (mental or physical) your body will let you know. I had consistently neglected 3 of my pillars and ended up in the ER. On the outside, I looked quite healthy: I was exercising and eating well, but my other three other pillars were weak and my body said enough. I’m passionate about the work I do because I have lived the stressed out, overwhelmed super-woman life and know there is another way. I am driven to help women live lives that feel as good on the inside as they look on the outside. How? Simply, by helping us be more mindful in our days, making sure we’re prioritizing our 5 pillars of wellness and managing our mind using the thought model. I keep these two frameworks as backbones as I move through my days being a mom, a support for you, and a human on this planet. Life is not easy but it’s not as difficult as we may make it. Start today by learning about the 5 pillars that make up your wellness.
EXERCISE: Exercise is about moving your body in a way that helps your body. Women often need to have a mind shift to begin to see exercise as something they do for their bodies and for their mental health. Exercise is not about losing weight. It’s about treating this one wonderful body you’ve been given in a manner that feels good and keeps it well. How do you move your body? What do you want your body to be able to do for you? Our bodies are designed to move. They are not meant to be sedentary. Close your eyes and picture yourself in 20 years. Are you treating your body in a way that will get you to that vision? If you want a life of mobility, you must live a mobile life.
FUEL: What do you feed your body? What foods are you putting in your body? How does your body feel when you eat or drink those foods? This is not about punishment or restriction. This pillar of wellness is about understanding which foods best fuel your body. Every body is different and reacts differently to foods. Diets don’t work. Picture that future you again: what kinds of food help her body? Which kinds of food don’t? It can be that simple.
SLEEP: Ah yes, sleep. This is the pillar most moms neglect. How much sleep do you get most nights? Do you go to bed around the same time and wake up the same time? Most adults do not get enough sleep. We use one of 2 main excuses: (1) It is our “me time”. Time at the end of the day when our kids and/or spouse may be asleep and we get to do what we want; or (2) It is that time to get everything done that we didn’t get done during the day. We tell ourself that the next day will be easier if we write that report or answer those emails now. These are harmful thoughts for different reasons. If you’re using the first excuse, that night time is the only time when you get to do what you want to do, stop and ask yourself why you’re choosing to spend the majority of your days doing things you don’t want to do. I encourage you to add some pockets of joy into your day instead of waiting until the end of the day. If you’re using the second excuse it’s helpful to learn about your brain and how it’s not efficient at that time of night. It will take you longer to write the emails or do the household tasks. Sure you have a lot to do. This is where one of my favorite mindfulness tools comes in to play. Go to sleep and then read more about that tool here.
RELATIONSHIPS: The people you surround yourself will impact you in every possible way. Studies show that the people around us impact our financial health, our mental health, our physical health, our daily habits (drinking, procrastinating, complaining, facebooking, etc..) It is in our best interest to examine this pillar. Who do you come into contact with most weeks? How do feel when you’re around them? How often do those around you compliment you? How often do they criticize you? How supported do you feel by the main players in your life? Who would you call if you were curled in a ball crying? Who would you call if you were jumping up and down cheering? Pay attention to who you choose to be in relation with. As I tell my kids, don’t spend time around people you don’t want to be like.
SOUL CARE: I used to call this pillar self care but, for me, that was easy to put off as I thought it meant pedicures and vacation. It’s more than that. Our emotional intelligence is actually based on our ability to love and care for ourselves. As a mom, I believe that this may be the most important (and neglected) pillar of wellness. This isn’t about getting our nails done. Soul care is deep work and a critical piece of living a life you love. We are all here on earth for a reason yet sometimes, through daily life, family-conditioning, and mothering, we lose sight of who we are. Soul care is all about caring for that unique piece of you so that you feel ALIVE and know that your life here on earth matters (it does). How do you know if you’re taking care of your soul? How do you feel most days? Strung out? Resentful? Bitter? Then you’re not taking care of your soul. Please push pause on your life and strengthen this pillar dear warrior. You matter to me.
I am passionate about the work I do because I lived in a stressed, busy, strung out way for the first part of my life. How did that work for me? I had a life that would’ve looked great on a facebook feed: 3 kids, husband, house, even a dog! But that life landed me in the ER. I took care of others needs before my own, and basically lived a life as if I was going for some Martyr of the Year award. I now view part of my role in this world is to model a life of what is possible. How to mother in a way that, in taking care of myself, everyone else is better taken care of than when I put their needs first. Join me. Let’s flip this paradigm and live lives that feel as good on the inside as they look on the outside!????
So hey warrior, which of your pillars are strong? Which of your pillars need some love? You can’t give to others what you don’t have. This week pay attention to how you care for yourself and each of your five pillars.
If you liked this post, please share it! Text it to a friend who needs to hear this message; Take a screen shot and share it on instagram (tag me @4smbwellness, I will reply!). As an extra bonus, if you’re listening to this in the month of September 2018, you could win a $50 gift card to Anthropologie! Head to this instagram post from September 3rd for specific details on how to enter. Big love to you warriors!