Friday, September 30, 2011

How is Amanda Owens healthy?

I live a stressful life. I'm constantly on the go between two different jobs, being in school full-time, and volunteering for a few organizations. I also like to maintain a happy social life and spend time with my partner.

With all the different balls I'm juggling in my personal and professional life, I like to think that my health is one that is made of glass. When I drop that one particular ball, it shatters, and everything else comes tumbling down. I can't afford to let that happen, and let's face it, neither can you.

Not too long ago, I ran across the crucial idea of self-care. Self-care can mean different things to different people. To say healthy mentally, I wake up 15 minutes early every morning. The small amount makes a big difference. It's a nice pocket of time that helps me not start out the day in a rush and gives me leeway to make up something I forgot.

Another important addition to my daily life is me-time. I set my work aside and relax in a way that I find relaxing, reading for fun or watching a TV show that makes me laugh. It means that I have more work to do during the day, but I feel more prepared knowing that I was able to rest and cant start with renewed purpose and a sense of motivation. I also have incorporated stretching into my everyday. Whenever I feel tense or realize I've been sitting in the same position at work too long, I do a few yoga-like stretches to release the tension and refresh my attitude.

Similarly, this stretching has helped me to stay physically healthy, as well. I've also switched to biking everywhere I go to help with longer commutes and increase my workout time in the week. It's difficult to find time for the gym, but biking to work or school helps me gain some physical activity where I might have instead sat on a city bus.

Going to the gym a few times a week, biking 8-12 miles daily, and walking longer distances has also contributed to sleeping a full night of rest. Before, I would work with this pending sense of obligation that I must be productive all the time, every moment of the day. How was I helping anyone, much less myself, when I was operating at half-health status, chugging along, giving the minimum? Now, I get to bed at a time that would ensure 6-8 hours of sleep and am better able to tackle the 10-15 hour days I have among my different duties.

Another way I feel healthy, mentally and emotionally, is the time I spend cultivating positive and affirming relationships in my life. I came to a place in my life where I wanted the most out of the people I spend time with... quality over quantity.

 Friends who support me in my endeavors, my activism, and who had similar paths and goals have become life-supports. It was in this process that I was lucky enough to meet my someone, and my partner inspires me to be more of me, the best of me, as cliché as it sounds.

Building my community has increased my support system and my family.

These small additions to my busy schedule have improved my health greatly. I feel invigorated. It's also a cycle, I feel, that perpetuates itself. As I started biking, I felt like sleeping a full night and was hungry enough to eat a proper and nutritious meal, that lead to feeling more energized, that made me want to bike more, that continued the cycle of feeling great.

The most important thing I did to stay healthy was to ask myself what I really needed for self-care and what I wanted as a result. Then I took small actions that helped feed larger actions. I started small to become what I wanted a piece at a time.

Amanda Owens

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