I often say to friends, clients, and even strangers in emails "I hope you are well", but what does that really mean? What is well enough, when it comes to our wellbeing?
Recently, I have been spinning a number of plates, which has meant that some things have had to take a back seat - number one being my wellbeing. I have been "well enough" to get through this busy and challenging patch, but I have by no means been thriving throughout it.
With some time to reflect, it has gotten me thinking about the barometer of our wellbeing. Where we tend to find ourselves fall naturally, where we hope to be, and where feels okay to dip to in tough times. So, perhaps it is a good place to begin by asking ourselves the following:
What does "well enough" look like for me? - when I am surviving, but not thriving
How do I know when I am not "well enough"? - what are the warning signs that I need extra support?
What can I do for myself when I'm thriving, to protect my future self when facing challenges? - what are the base line practices, contacts and other support systems that I can already have in place for when I need them most?
The good thing about wellbeing is that it is completely improvable. So, whatever hardships we face, we can know that our wellbeing will not have to suffer forever because of it. However, that does mean that inevitably we will all suffer at times with our wellbeing - and that will of course look different for everybody. One of the reasons I love the practice of yoga and meditation so much is that it enables us to develop our self awareness, which is imperative when it comes to managing our wellbeing; we must have the ability to recognise our own state of being in order to know when we are not "well enough". There can be little signs that creep up on us, and suddenly they are overruling our every day. For me, that looks like being more crabby than usual, with more judgemental thoughts and less interest in spending time with others. When I reach that point I recognise that I need to create some more space for my wellbeing. Explore what the tell tale signs are that you are not coping, and when you are heading towards a place of "not well enough".
The challenge is, if we are able to recognise when our wellbeing is beginning to dip too low, that sometimes the resources, the time or space necessary to get better isn't available when we need it. This is why it is imperative for our "well self" to take care of our "not so well self". When we are in a place of enough "okay-ness" it is vital that we put things in place that will protect us not only from reaching a severe dip in our wellbeing, but also to help us through those hard times. For me, that's my daily sea dipping. Because it is a non-negotiable for me, no bad mood, no desperately challenging day will stop me from doing that one thing that is good for me. This is because my "well self" chose to do this every day, and my "not so well self" has no option but to carry on with it, and inevitably I feel a little better for having done it - especially when it is a tough day. Figure out the things that would be really helpful when you're reaching a low, and make them habitual; a frequent self-care practice. Have additional support in place as well, like therapy or deeply relaxing treatments as your regular go-to for staying well, so that they're already within your reach when bigger challenges arise.
With the challenge of not having the space, time or resources, it can also mean making some difficult decisions when we are not really in the best mindset to be capable of doing that. Again, this is something to consider when you are feeling well, in order to avoid the additional pressure of making decisions when you are becoming depleted. When we are reaching a low in our wellbeing, we must identify the tasks and responsibilities that are fine to do when we are floating, but not okay for us when we're drowning. We undertake many pressures in our daily lives, and it is important to notice which ones it is possible to drop. I have had a lot of different things going on lately, which has meant that I have not been able to give 100% in every domain. In times like these I remind myself that we are all only human after all, and we mustn't expect ourselves to live like robots. I reached a place where I had to make the tough decision to put a couple of my Moon Sessions on hold, providing recordings of the sessions instead. Likewise, I've turned down invitations to see friends when I have recognised that I really needed the time to myself to refuel instead. This is a real challenge, because both of those are activities I actually really enjoy, particularly when I am feeling well. However, when I am taxed with other challenges, I realise that they (or more accurately, the necessary admin surrounding those activities like driving somewhere to meet a friend, organising and advertising the moon circle) can become draining instead. Take note of the things that drain you when you're down, determine what you can let go of, or pass the responsiblity to someone else on, and know that it's okay to drop the reins on those things sometimes.
So, although it would be ideal to be able to prioritise our wellbeing, and be at our optimum wellness all of the time, unfortunately that isn't quite realistic. Our wellbeing ebbs and flows with life, and the best we can do is support those challenging waves when they do arise, by anchoring our boat when the seas are still. Know the barometer of your wellbeing, the signs that you need additional support, and set yourself up to stay "well enough" when things get tough by getting your self-care practices in place when you do have capacity - and keep them there, and remember the things that you can let go of when you need more respite.
If you are going through a particularly challenging time, and need that additional support right now, please feel welcome to get in touch for counselling or individual wellbeing support. email@example.com