In line with my word of the year heart, my wellness goals this year are aimed at heart health – improving it, healing it, making it sing:
- Healthy body
- Healthy mind
- Healthy relationships
As a result of some extreme and sustained stress and anxiety in 2015/2016, I experienced high blood pressure – at one point dangerously high blood pressure. I’m an asthmatic and the medication I was placed on reduced my heartbeat to a level where I literally couldn’t breathe. Instead of feeling as though my heart was beating out of my chest, I felt as though my lungs were carrying a lead weight. My fitness disappeared overnight and climbing even a short flight of stairs left me breathless.
Although the doctor (eventually) changed my medication, I’m not on any at the moment and a pharmaceutical fix is absolutely not a long-term solution for me. Although our lifestyle has changed over the past 12 months, there’s no doubt that my weight is continuing to place stress on my heart.
This year is about healing both the physical and emotional hurts I’ve inflicted on that poor organ over the last few years. In short, I need to lighten up – in mind, body and spirit.
Ok, I drink too much alcohol. My one glass a night has crept up to ½ a bottle a night – and more on weekends. It started as a way of managing the anxiety of my job and the crap storm that was happening elsewhere in 2015/2016. It was my way of winding down and numbing the events of the day – yes, my job back then really was that stressful.
Even after I left that job in July 2016, there was other stuff happening, long commutes, and…you don’t need the details. Suffice to say, I continued to self-medicate and de-sensitise.
These days that’s pretty much going straight to my belly with no nutritional value at all. I don’t intend giving it up completely, and would like to say I’d go alcohol-free during the work week, but in the interests of being nice to myself, will limit my midweek drinks to one glass of red a night – and not one that looks like this!
At the other end of the spectrum, I’m slack on my water consumption. This is a problem as my body is one of those that tends to hold onto water. In the summer or on long flights that means my ankles become cankles by the end of the day. Then I spend all night back and forth from the loo to pee it all out again. Too much information?
My heart needs more water to do its job properly, so more water is what I’ll give it.
Generally speaking, we eat well. We eat and cook seasonally using fresh ingredients. I gave up sugar (including hidden sugars) a number of years ago – with the notable exception of the above-mentioned alcohol – but my portion sizes are too large (remember what I said in my word post about boundaries?) and although I never eat after dinner, I tend to snack in the late afternoon. This really is a mindfulness thing, but the changes I intend to bring into 2018 are:
- Smaller portions
- Meatless Mondays
- No snacking
- Reduce wheat and gluten – good sourdough can be my once a week treat
I’ve fallen off the daily walk wagon in the last couple of weeks, but up till then was walking 5 km most weekday mornings.
As for my gym membership? I haven’t set foot in the place since November, so strength training simply hasn’t happened and everything is very floppy. Sadly, the opposite is true of my joints. I used to pride myself on my flexibility, but that’s non-existent these days.
In the interests of doing things that make my heart sing rather than groan:
- I’ll re-commence my morning walks, but add in a longer one once a week. I’d like to set myself some sort of challenge to work towards, but am not there yet.
- I’m getting back into the pool. I swam most of my life – until a boxing-related shoulder injury some years ago. It’s time to get wet again.
- Although I hate it with an absolute passion, I do need to get to the gym and do some strength work.
- Yoga. I spend a lot of time sitting on my bum, so need both my body and my mind stretched.
I still struggle with anxiety – those moments that consume my brain with worry and make my heart race, especially at night. As a result, my sleep patterns are less than ideal – alcohol helps me get to sleep, but it also leads to disturbed sleep.
I have to find ways of coping and switching off that don’t involve alcohol. I also need to learn how to let go of the things I can’t control – lighten the load my brain copes with. I spend way too much time worrying about what other people think and trying to control that.
These tactics should help soothe my mind:
- Morning walks help me deal with the corporate gig and get my day off to a good start, and are integral to my mental health. Walking beside the ocean soothes my mind and makes my heart sing. In addition this year:
- Swimming along a black line has always been an active meditation for me. It’s the main reason I’m hitting the pool this year.
- I’m giving meditation a whirl and also recommencing a yoga practice after many years of absence. I’m starting with just 10 minutes a day…surely that’s achievable?
This year marks 29 years that hubby and I have been together, and 24 years married. It’s easy to take each other for granted over that period of time. In a busy life, one on one time takes a back-seat.
In view of that, I’m suggesting we have regular beach walks together – it will help his heart too! – and a date night (or lunch) once a month.
While the three of us eat our evening meal together at the dining table with no telly, I’ll be reinstating the Saturday night specials – where I prepare a more elaborate or special dinner with music, candles and proper table settings. It’s something that we used to always do but has slipped over the years.
Ok, those are the goals…I’m joining with a group of bloggers to check-in monthly in a Wellness Wednesday style post. Wish me luck!
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