The World doesn’t Revolve Around Me?
I had so many plans for 2015. I was going to ski in Vail, adopt another dog and get into the best shape of my life. However, 2015 had different plans for me. In fact, the universe forgot to revolve around my plans altogether.
C’est la vie – That’s life.
I had a nasty skiing accident in February 2015. As a result, my knee got busted, and a blood clot invaded one of my veins. At the same time, my dad got really ill and died in 2015. Consequently, I couldn’t fly to attend my father’s funeral.
Under those circumstances, I was grief-stricken. Not to mention, I wasn’t able to walk or even make myself a cup of coffee. For my independent and robust psyche, this was an equal of slow death.
Even though I was very fortunate to have my best friend – my husband by my side, I needed to find my own strength. I cried over my father’s death and my busted knee. I found comfort in thinking that my dad is no longer suffering, that we reconciled our differences and spent some time together before he passed away.
Likewise, there was nothing much I could’ve done about my knee. So I settled into a nice comfy chair with a good book and let the time pass. Hence, I rolled over and looked at the stars…
Indeed, time passes and heals. It’s been a few years since these devastating events. My knee is practically as good a new. I went to visit my dad’s grave to pay my final respects.
After all, 2015 taught me many great lessons. In this blog, I would like to share my top six tools that helped me bounce back.
1) Start a Journal
Journaling is an ancient tradition that dates back to at least 10th century Japan. Successful people throughout history kept journals. For example, Oscar Wilde, a 19th-century playwright, said:
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”
The University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker said that regular journaling strengthens immune cells. In addition, he believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them.
Writing is my number one tool. I keep track of my feelings, food intake, exercise regimen, dreams, fears, gratitude, and priorities. My daily journal is my best friend and my shrink. Ultimately, writing helps me to keep track of all aspects of my life. It makes it easier to let go of distractions and prioritize important work. I keep all my notes in the excel spreadsheet. Generally, I spend about 10 minutes in the morning and about 15 minutes in the evening to go over my day. In addition, I write down my yearly and monthly agendas.
The first thing to remember, make it simple and consistent. Forget about spelling and punctuation. Privacy is key if you are to write without censors. Write quickly, as this frees your brain from “should” and other blocks to successful journaling. Start with a pen and paper or use my template.
What are you waiting for? Grab a pen and start writing!
2) Get more Sleep
Most of us are sleep-deprived. As a result, this deprivation will lead to obesity and depression. So start prepping for sleep as soon as you can. It can be 30 minutes to two hours. In fact, Brian Johnson talks a lot about a digital sunset. Basically, you completely shut down your electronic input and gently remove all electronics from your bedroom sometime before you go to sleep.
With this in mind, I typically spend some time with my husband. Follow with my nightly journal log reflecting on the day and the next day to come. Finally, I put my phone on airplane mode and turned all my devices down.
What can you give up to gain more hours of sleep?
3) Eat Clean
Based on numerous studies, a plant-based diet is optimal for health and well-being. However, it is very easy to overeat even with healthy foods. For example, I gained over 10 lbs in less than a year simply by not paying attention. Overeating leads to obesity and causes inflation and arthritis.
As a doctor, Chris Centeno noted that obesity is linked to knee arthritis. In summary, when you eat more, your body’s ability to turn off the hunger switch is disabled, and you produce a hormone called leptin. As a result, your hunger switch is overwritten, and your brain can’t differentiate from “hunger” to “full” signal, and you tend to eat more and more, contributing to this vicious cycle. Based on a number of studies, there is a direct correlation between leptin levels in the blood and arthritis. And this was independent of how much someone weighed. In addition, hormones that are the causes of obesity seem to act negatively on cartilage health. So the good news is that you reduce your leptin levels and, therefore, the potential of leptin knee arthritis by short-term fasting (24-72 hours).
Provided my state of mind, it took me some time to come back to balanced eating. The Rich’s Roll podcast interview with Ray Cronise and regenexx research changed the way I eat. As a result, I was able to lose 10 lbs and keep it off.
So, take small steps on a daily basis. For example, you can cook your own meals instead of going out. Fill your plate with veggies and fruit. Get rid of the sugars, processed foods and reduce your portion sizes.
What can you do today to improve your diet?
4) Get Moving
We all know the benefits of exercise. I have a somewhat rigid routine that includes many knee rehabilitation exercises, high intensity workouts, and finishing up with light yoga. Inability to move was very challenging, but I kept focusing on what I could do. A few weeks after the injury, I was able to do some core and arm work and increase the intensity over the following weeks. Start slow, commit to moving daily, no time for the gym – work out at home. There is so much to try: 12 – minute beginner boot camp, Pilates at home, Yoga, go for a walk, take stairs, keep moving. To avoid injuries, start small and build up. At no time should you be in pain?
How can you incorporate more movement into your life?
5) Practice Meditation
There are no excesses. Meditation needs to happen on a daily basis.
As Jonathan Haidt noted in his book “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom“:
“Suppose you read about a pill you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it?” Haidt inquires. “Suppose further that the pill had a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy and trust; it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all-natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It is called meditation.”
There are so many options to choose from. Try different techniques, and remember you can’t fail at meditation. From my understanding, mediation is not about turning your thoughts off but instead becoming a non-judgmental observer. Do your research. If you find a technique that resonates with you, give it at least 21 days before moving on to something else.
My meditation practice is about 10 minutes a day. I start with some muscle release and basic movement coordinated with the breath. The actual meditation is focused on breathing. Sometimes I visual a mountain and use mantras. The key is to keep it simple and consistent.
No more excuses, just meditate!
6) Find Joy
I love hiking and being outdoors, exploring the woods, climbing the mountains. My whole world was crumbled when I couldn’t walk, but I also love to read. During my debilitating injury, I’ve discovered audiobooks. My grief dissipated as Douglass Adams told me about life, the universe, and everything else…I am a big science-fiction fan. What makes your heart smile? Whether it is walking in the park, dancing, or reading a good book. Allocate some time in your schedule for this activity.
To conclude, life can really kick you in the knee sometimes.
However, nothing that happens to you is ultimately bad or good. What you do about it is the only thing that matters. Healing is a choice so is suffering. What would it be?
Thanks for reading. Please share your bounce back to life tips!