I entered 2018 with trepidation: Would my health continue to improve? Would the combo of school + work induce another lupus flare? Will I find my physical limits?
I enter 2019 with excitement: I know that, being careful, I can continue to improve on my physical capabilities while balancing school, work, and, of course, outdoor play.
2018 was a really busy year and an even busier fall; I actually experienced noticeable, physical reactions to the stress or work and school. Joint aches began to emerge and my fatigue returned (albeit, neither symptoms quite at my 2015-2017 levels). However, the fatigue and joint aches led to a decrease in my capacity to get outside, which, in turn, led to a noticeable dip in my mental health. Although I did not completely plummet down the rabbit hole of intense depression, I was quite aware of my mindset and the potential for depression to hold me down for an indefinite period of time.
We’ve all heard the rhetoric about finding balance in our lives. For those living with chronic conditions – conditions that are generally seriously impacted by stress – that need to “balance” takes on a more critical tone.
I’ve written about this before but it’s always worth restating: it’s not about getting out and embarking on huge, epic adventures; it’s about integrating daily activity in your life. For me, it meant simply going out for multiple, shorter walks during the day. It allowed me with a physical break from the computer but, more importantly, provided me with the emotional and mental boost that exercise* has been continually proven to improve.
Where 2018 showed me both my potentials and my limits, 2019 is about taking those lessons and integrating them better in my life. Never once, even when I felt so completely overwhelmed with deadlines or due dates, did I regret getting outside for a bike/ski/walk. It was always the opposite with energy levels increasing, mood improving, and my joints being relieved of pain (if only temporarily).
And so, what has me excited about 2019? What does “balance” look like for me?
- Re-integrating daily outdoor activity in my life: I’ve discovered that my body can handle it again.
- Ensuring the daily activity meets my emotional and mental needs: This means taking actual weekend getaways, and full or 1/2 days to recharge and re-focus.
- Using our camper: to support the above!
- The Arizona Trail: 3-4 weeks of biking in Arizona (and hopefully tacos and margaritas!).
How about you? What are you excited about for this year?
*I’ve caveated this before but will do so again: I am not advocating anyone quit their prescription medications. Exercise is complementary for mental health but is not a substitute. Talk with your doctor.