By Sarah Jaravaza

Take a deep breath in and then as you breathe out count to 3. What comes to mind?

It is May 2019, the 5th month of the year, and like it feels for some of us, the year is racing by. We all know that at the beginning of the year, everyone goes crazy doing new year’s resolutions, but how often do we check in to see what progress we are making during the year?  This post is a wellness check to remind ourselves to take care of our health, spiritual, physical and mental.

I am fortunate in that my profession gives me several weeks away from work between school terms, so I get to check in with myself seriously three times a year. I disconnect from my social media, I read more, exercise regularly and reflect on spiritual texts. I don’t know about you, but with age and life, responsibilities come fast and furious and it is really hard to take a moment, let alone serious time out to prioritise health. But anytime you feel like you are drowning or losing focus, just check on yourself by simply counting 1, 2, 3.

1 – Physical Health

Physical Health is so important. A lot of diseases are preventable if caught early. As a woman, it is really important to get screened for breast and cervical cancer. Some government clinics offer free screenings, so find out about those.

In my part of the world, it is getting to those winter months so it becomes so important to stay hydrated. If you hate drinking plain old water, there are so many options from healthy smoothies to simply adding refreshing lemon and cucumber to a glass. Drink up. Exercise can be a really tough one for some of us, but keep moving and keep motivated. Some people like team sports, or use apps like Habit Bull to track their progress, but whatever it is, keep your physical activity levels up. Nothing beats the rush of endorphins after a great run, or game of volleyball. I love taking a walk in the mornings around my neighbourhood. As Steve Jobs said; “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”

So keep looking until you find the right exercise for you.

2 – Mental Health

A lot of studies are showing that more and more people are suffering from mental health disorders like anxiety and panic attacks. More often than not it can be hard to ignore those negative voices in our head or the fear that can overwhelm at times. External stressors like work or a bad economy can seem like they are just going to finish us off until we reach breaking point.

Prevention is better than cure, so find a mental health care strategy that works for you.  Books like The Secret suggest listing 3 things you are grateful for each day. Other sources suggest saying daily affirmations in the mirror everyday, “I am beautiful” “I am successful” Today will be an amazing day”. Sometimes we forget that our journey with mental health is not a straight path, and it is ok to have a bad day. However it is important not to become too despondent for long. If you feel a particular situation is becoming too much for you to deal with on your own, then do seek professional help. A lot of churches offer counselling for free or for a minimal donation.

3 – Spiritual Health

I don’t know where you stand on your spiritual beliefs, but I believe that we all need that connection to a higher power. A good friend of mine wakes up early to meditate in her garden. She says nothing beats the feeling of sitting quietly with nothing but the early morning sounds, and the gentle sun on her face. I am a huge fan of apps, and my favourite meditation app is the Calm app.  It is a paid app, but the free version has also a lot of guided meditations that help you to focus and clear your mind. So often we struggle to be present with distractions all day, but clearing your mind can be a useful respite. Ultimately, you can just use a timer and meditate on your own thoughts.

If you attend religious services, make sure that when things become busy that you do not neglect this. In fact, there is great power in meeting regularly with people who share the same faith. Another great way to feel connected to others is to volunteer. As busy as you might be, sometimes all it can be is giving up an hour of your weekend to play with children at an orphanage or helping out with a fundraising activity. Every little bit helps.

So there are 8 months left of 2019. I don’t know what you still want to achieve, but anytime you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath, count 1, 2, 3 and do a self-assessment. The better you feel the more you will be able to do.