What are you prioritising?

The most important things in life are often the hardest things to confront. A bad situation at work. A stressful family matter. Low mood or depression. What’s worse, we don’t always understand all the factors fuelling them.

That was the situation Simone (not her real name) found herself in about a year ago. When she came to see me, she had been living with fatigue and gastric problems for years. It had become her new normal. Along with her physical ill health Simone also struggled with low self esteem, a lack of motivation and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed by what she had to get through every day.

Compounding matters, she was unhappy in her marriage and had no family nearby to help her out. Yet Simone continued to juggle work, family and her home.

In order to truly become the best version of herself Simone needed to do one thing and it wasn’t easy. She needed to move her health to the top of her priority list.

If it were possible to look at the factors which contributed to the problems she was dealing with each day, her physical health would have been at the front, or near the front, of the queue for each of them.

Simone is not alone in this. It’s difficult to prioritise your health when the effects of your ill-health don’t seem to be directly link to it. Simone saw the problems in her life as individual things, unrelated to anything else. Take the marriage, for example. How does her health factor into that? The work stress? That’s caused by her work, not processes inside her body, right?

Yes and no. There are external factors (the boss) which you can’t influence, but the internal factors (energy, confidence) which are used to manage it are entirely yours to influence. That’s where your wellbeing comes in.

Let’s put it another way. What happens when your car runs out of petrol, has no air in the tires, hasn’t been serviced forever and has a flat battery? It just sits in the driveway unable to do the thing it was designed for.

Your health is the same. When you the right fuel in it, take it to the mechanic to get broken bits fixed and put some new tires on it, it’s ready to do its job reliably, enabling you to get from A to B with the speed and ease you expect. (Can you tell I have no idea how cars work?)

Once Simone got to work on rebuilding her health, she started to reclaim her physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. She got back in the game.

When we CHOOSE - and that’s the key word here - to be the healthiest version of ourselves, we can then:

1. Seek out the support we need to do so
2. Have the belief in ourself required to know we can do this
3. Make the effort required to make the necessary changes
4. Maintain the commitment we make to the process of transformation

In all of my years of clinical experience, I’ve learned over and over again that our wellbeing starts with the foundations of health; adequate sleep, hydration, movement, nutrition and stress management.

However, to truly flourish we need to:

1. Cultivate self love. What conversations are you having with yourself currently? Are you your own worst enemy?
2. Believe in ourselves. Do you lack confidence about your capabilities?
3. Surrounding ourselves with people who elevate us, not deflate us. (They say you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.)
4. Be passionate about something. What truly excites you?
5. Live and work in a healthy environment. Are you constantly exposed to visual pollution that is disrupting your psyche?

Simone chose to prioritise her wellbeing, and yes, it was work.

She began by seeking out the support she needed to juggle her week. This was in the form of paid help. A cleaner once a fortnight to help reduce the resentment she felt about this. She hired somebody to pick up her kids from school two afternoons a week.

Simone backed herself and committed to eat well, get to bed early, exercise when possible and create the time and space to invest in her emotional wellbeing too.

As a result, Simone is now flourishing. She made some strategic decisions about her situation after getting very clear about what her ideal life would look like. Above all, she drew a line and decided to be on the other side of it. It was a big decision and it was not always easy, but the payoff has been more than worth it.