It’s time to talk about you. I’ve been craving this conversation — just you and me — for a long time. (For 35 months, to be exact!) I started this newsletter in the panicked spring of 2020, thinking I’d dispense some COVID advice then promptly move on to the subjects I’ve been yearning to yak about for a decade: the universality of mental health; the relevance of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to our physical health and medical outcomes; and how to be a little more OKAY than you are today (given that no one is truly “okay”).
I went into the Christmas break with symptoms of burnout. I talked with my therapist about it and wondered if my PTSD makes me more scattered/brain-fogged and stressed, or the workload at my job truly is too high, or both. She encouraged me to consider what I can and can’t change. I’m no longer trying to define what’s causing the burnout but instead focusing on stress reduction. I am learning to notice my mindset and hold myself to a lower standard at work, which means letting others do things even if I know I can do it better, letting some tasks go, finding simpler ways to do things even if they’re different. I’ve always thought I was going these because I already say no to tasks, but I regularly hold myself to very high expectations and standards. It’s simply not sustainable or worthwhile. What has felt good that started in January (no resolutions, but simply because I had more time) is going out for a daily walk. Where I live, the sun sparkles on a blanket of snow. It’s beautiful and bitterly cold. I dress warm and take the dog out and feel refreshed. And I reward myself with a warm Epsom bath after.
To be Healthy is fluid for me the older I get. I love the reminder you share about it being more than our negative covid test or our cholesterol readings. The pandemic has changed us all in so many ways and emphasized medical health, which leaves me asking myself am I okay? I am okay! Even if I get sick. That’s my goal. To know that I am fortunate to have insurance and a family in town and supportive friends, so if I do have an illness or medical crisis I will not be alone in that journey. As we age there can be so much fear of illness and aging and change. All of these things are part of life. So, my definition includes my whole well being balancing Mentally, physically, emotionally, and in my community a feeling of wellness.
Health: to be able to do the things that are important to me without restrictions, such as take my dog for a walk, play on the floor with my grandkids, lift 2-3 kiddos up at a time, climb into the back seat to buckle them in, climb on a jungle gym, have my clothes fit, stand confidently on a stage for my keynote speeches and wake up every morning without aches/pains and go to a weight lifting class.
My mom had rheumatoid arthritis at my age and couldn’t do most of these things, then died from stroke complications. She’s my inspiration.
M: Also for Monty Python. The BMJ has proven the silly walk to have numerous benefits:
"We did not measure minutes spent laughing or number of smiles as secondary outcomes while walking inefficiently. Smiling during the inefficient walking trials could not be observed due to participants’ mouths being obscured by the facemask worn during data collection. However, all participants were noticeably smiling upon removal of the facemask. Moreover, bursts of laughter from the participants were frequently noted by the supervising investigator, almost always when participants were engaging in the Teabag walk."
Firstly, I like the name of your newsletter. It makes me stop and do a self check every time I see it. That is a good thing. Secondly, I have a hard time with balance in my life and it reminds me that it is OK not to be OK with every single aspect of my life on a daily basis.
￼ it seems like I could never find total balance. I can diet but other things take a backseat like motivation! “ I don’t wanna exercise right now. I’m hungry” LOL! ￼ This is only one example, but the one I’m dealing with right now is the most typical. When something happens to interrupt what I consider a good routine, I can’t find the ambition to continue or get back on the horse. We have had some pretty bad weather in northern California, causing us to have to relocate. That has affected eating habits, to do lists (they have been replaced with other must do’s), no “time” to exercise (I wouldn’t do it even if I had time), etc. ￼ You get the idea… It’s about balance for me and thank you for reminding me to check myself!
Surely there is more to just obvious being sick, the environment/ atmosphere how they speak to me...but what matters the most is my response.
Didn’t celebrate much as we were having a freezing wind and snow. Definition of health is being able to swim three times weekly and do exercises at home the other days. Stayed healthy throughout but was nearly depressed by the isolation. Live alone and exposed only when going to grocery or swimming pool. Had COVID vaccine twice and COVID at least one time. All at 91 and still living alone.
Hey Lucy! Your title of the newsletter makes me genuinely ask myself if I am actually okay or just pretending to be okay. It gives me time to reflect on my well-being. I totally agree that January 1st is full of aspirations but by 9th of January we are back to our reality. I felt this personally as I am about to start a new semester at my university and after Christmas break, I feel like I am not ready for it or I need more time. I know it's the procrastination but it's so funny how I started the first week of January with full enthusiasm and energy but slowly I need to remind myself of the goals, plans and work for the future. Anywho, I absolutely loved this newsletter :)
You nailed it again this week. Not be okay and still moving is do important. I am trying acupuncture in addition to therapy, meds and STEM to help me live closer to my values than living from anxiety! It is helping me create space in my body for all of my feelings! Thank you for all your work and knowledge that you put into this newsletter and your podcast!
It’s very refreshing to hear about struggles and challenges as opposed to the Instagram-filtered ideal lives everyone promotes.
Really nice article. Especially the part about reclaiming agency resonates with me a lot. I went through something similar these past months, being stressed and looking for time and direction. Really proud to have turned it around, wrote about it on my Substack this week (https://roberturbaschek.substack.com/p/stress-happiness-and-motivation). Would be interested to hear your thoughts on it.