Women in Wellness: Building a Better World
Women in Wellness: Building a Better World
About 5 years ago, when I was a grad student living in New York City, I woke up one day feeling miserable and hungover from partying with friends the night before, and decided then and there that I was going to drastically change my lifestyle by making a serious commitment to my personal health and wellness. At the time, I was already really into fitness -- I was in great condition, doing yoga and weight training multiple times a week -- but my holistic wellness needed work. A lot of work. And so, I thought about all of the ways that I could (and should) go beyond the physical realm to also improve the mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of my health in order to become a stronger, happier, and more fulfilled individual. I started right away: I quit drinking and partying, I cleaned up my diet, I improved my sleeping habits, and essentially catapulted myself toward a better way of living.
I did it for a number of reasons: I was a stressed out grad student in a competitive program and I needed a healthy outlet. I was in a bad relationship and wanted to become independent. I was tired of the party scene and wanted something more productive to do with my free time. I was homesick for my family in North Dakota, depressed off-and-on, and I wanted to improve my overall mood. I was raised with spiritual beliefs from my Native American culture which taught that I should abstain from alcohol and other substances, and I knew that I should honor this side of my culture. And, above all, I distinctly remember a particularly convincing thought popping into my head; I would be a mother one day, I realized. While motherhood seemed far off and distant to my then 25-year-old self, it still made sense that I should start preparing myself for what I knew would eventually be the most important role of my life. Real change takes time to put into place. Then, I thought, was the right time to start becoming my best self so that I could one day be an amazing mother.
And I’m so glad that I did. Today, at the age of 30, I write this post from my living room in Scottsdale, Arizona, while my two-week-old daughter sleeps soundly next to me and my life partner works in his office the next room over. There is no doubt in my mind that my commitment to wellness transformed my personal and professional life for the better, in more ways than I could have ever anticipated. Because of a renewed commitment to health and wellness that I happened to stick with, I am proud of the person I have become, I am deeply satisfied with my career, I am happier than I have ever been, and I am confident that I am a strong partner to my spouse, and now, an excellent mama to my baby girl.
I use my personal story to exemplify a larger point. The purpose of wellness goes far beyond appearances, weight loss, being in shape, or anything else involving looks or materialism. The purpose of wellness is to feel good from the inside out, to become mentally strong so that you can tackle life’s challenges, and to be emotionally sound so that you can have a less-stressed existence. Committing to wellness and can transform your life just as it did mine.
As women, we are often the backbone of our families, workplaces, friendship circles, and more. I see this all the time in Native American communities, where I come from: so many women take the lead and endure tremendous responsibilities just to make life easier on others and to nurture those whom they hold dear. On one hand, it’s a beautiful thing to witness the strength and resiliency of such tough women, but it’s tragic when the stress and emotional hardships of others weigh too heavily on those who are in positions to help, and their own health and wellbeing begins to suffer.
Sometimes, a commitment to wellness can seem selfish. You might feel like it’s wrong or self-centered to spend a lot of time or energy focusing on personal wellness goals. But I urge you -- don’t become one of the women whose personal health and wellness suffers because you were too focused on others. When you take care of yourself first, you are then able to take care of others and to tackle your career life, family life, and all other elements of life with renewed vigor and with more strength than ever.
Now that I am a Mom, I fully intend on passing this message down to my daughter when she becomes old enough to understand. Do not be afraid to take care of yourself first, to look out for yourself, and to focus on your own needs and wellbeing. You deserve it, and it’s not selfish. Caring for yourself will go beyond yourself, whether you realize it or not. The world has always relied on strong women to keep things going and to carry the burdens that only we can manage. As more and more women continue to carry on compassionate lives while also committing to uplifting themselves, the world will become a much better place. It might even be the kind of place that we feel good about bringing our daughters into. And what could be better than that?