By Stacie Prada
If I distill my health down to a litmus test to objectively judge my level of wellness, it boils down to this: How am I naturally behaving right now?
How I naturally behave is a reflection of the thoughts in my head and how I perceive the world. Am I struggling with something, or am I content? Am I interacting with other people positively without thinking, or is it taking extra effort to behave in a socially acceptable manner? Do I respond to inconveniences with frustration or compassion?
When our physical health is compromised and we’re sick, injured or chronically ill, it’s easy to be grumpy. After a car accident in high school, I lived with a constant headache for five years before having jaw surgery to correct TMJ misalignment. During those years, constant physical pain became normal. There were likely many moments I was grumpy. But living with pain didn’t preclude the wonderful times I experienced, nor did it override my sense of wellness. It was a part of the experience and something I worked on trying to improve. MS is like that for me. It’s an inconvenience and something I factor in to my daily decisions and life choices. With years of monitoring my health and adapting, MS has become only a part of my experience and not a constant dominating fear.
That said, MS does affect how I feel and can make me feel a little unwell at times. It doesn’t mean I’m not well. It may just mean I need an adjustment, a slight course correction to stay on the wellness path. Converting the realization that I’m not as well as I want to be can be done by thinking about the areas of my life that contribute to my wellbeing.
When I list them all, the list gets long, and I can overthink it pretty quickly. Thankfully ruminating is an enjoyable hobby for me. I loved reviewing wellness wheel graphics online and seeing how other people explain factors for health.
There are a lot of variations of the wheel of wellness and they can be used as a starting point, but I think it’s important to think about what you care about, not what you think you should care about.
I want to learn, contribute, be active, have meaningful relationships, feel good and look good. I want to be financially stable, have a tidy home and travel. For me being well means I can do at least a little of each without neglecting other aspects of my life that are important to me.
What if someday never comes? And what if it does? For me wellbeing is enjoying life today while planning for a future. The perfect day for me would include rest, activity, relationships, learning, contributing, creativity and celebration.
Look inside yourself, look outside yourself, and think about the mark you want to leave. If I wanted to score wellness for myself, it would be a complex equation with many, many variables. In my attempt to create an equation I visualized a sphere that magnifies based on my areas of health. When I focus on things I can control, say, do or believe, it bolsters my sense of wellbeing. It distracts me from things I can’t control, and it genuinely boosts my mood and love of life.
What would you add for your own sphere of wellbeing?
*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 at the age of 38. Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/