In my recent absence, I didn’t take care of myself. I quit working-out, ate poorly, let my mental health spiral downward, and had a crisis of faith. This post will be a little different than most of our normal content, as it will tackle some of my personal beliefs on the self and health, and you’ll get a taste of my personal religious faith as well. I only mean to outline my basic plan to help me get back into a healthier place, and I’m doing this as an exercise in planning and accountability. What I mean by this is to force myself to come up with an actual plan and stick to it in an attempt to avoid coming up with a half-hearted plan to make myself feel better, but to actually have a set of goals and how I’ll work towards them, all in writing.
In order for this to make sense I need to express my ideology on the self. As a Christian, I believe that we consist of a mind, body, and a soul/spirit. There are multiple interpretations of this, and this whole trichotomy is debated, as some see it as a dichotomy instead. But in my experience and study I have come to the conclusion of a trichromatic idea of self. It is my personal belief that these three affect each other. This is seen in depression, for example. I suffer from Major Depression, which is partially brought on by a physical issue in my brain preventing dopamine from crossing the neural synapses in a process known as reuptake, thus causing my mind to constantly feel sad, hopeless, and at times numb. But this also affects my spiritual health as it has caused me to doubt my faith heavily and even caused me to step somewhat away from God. I use this as an example as it highlights the interrelationship of these three parts. And it is this interrelatedness that makes health so important in these three areas.
My health goals are simple, ultimately to be physically fit and lean, to be able to have better control and management over my mental health issues, and making sure that I’m active in my faith. The following is an outline of my personal health plan. This plan cannot be implemented overnight, but it is something that I’m working towards.
1) Going to the gym 3-5 days a week
a. Goal of 5 days a week
i. 1 mile run as warmup
ii. Train something different each day
1. Monday: Arm and Shoulder/Core
2. Tuesday: Chest/Core
3. Wednesday: Martial Arts and/or Cardio
4. Thursday: Back/Core
5. Friday: Legs/Core
6. Saturday: Kenpo Class
2) Continue practicing Martial Arts
a. Saturday Morning Kenpo Class
b. Work a Technique Daily
3) Cleaning up my diet
a. Avoiding fried goods
b. Adding more fruits to my diet
i. I get plenty of veggies, just not fruit
c. Healthy fats only
i. Olive oil, nuts, avocado, for example
d. ALL THE TEA!!!!!!!!!!!!
4) And keep good sleep hygiene
a. Sleep according to sleep cycles
b. Avoid screens an hour before bed
c. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
d. Naps are A-Okay
e. No Coffee after 3 PM
1) Editing thought patterns
a. What this means is to work on identifying what thoughts can trigger a panic attack or a depressive episode, and changing them
b. If a triggering thought comes in, then I reverse it to make it match the true nature of reality.
i. Triggering Thought: Belief a person is angry with me despite evidence and interaction with said person stating otherwise
ii. Edited thought: Person is not angry with me.
a. I typically do this right before bed, as it slows my heartrate and helps to clear my mind, most of the time
b. I use the Breath App on my Apple Watch, which guides me through five minutes of breathing. The goal is to focus on breathing and nothing else. If I lose focus, I bring it back in.
a. Writing down my thoughts as often as I can, in a hope to come to some kind of catharsis and/or make sense of my thoughts
a. Two types of breaks exist
i. Short-form Breaks
2. Go grab a cup of coffee or some tea
3. YouTube break
4. Go say hi to someone
5. Play a round of War Robots or Magic the Gathering on my computer (to give a couple examples)
ii. Long-form Breaks
1. Scheduling a day off from school and work every week
2. If I can, take a night off from homework and writing.
3. These long form breaks ought to consist mostly of what Thomas Franks calls “High-Density Fun” which means things that actually rest me and give me satisfaction:
a. Video games
b. Hanging out with friends
d. Training with some of my Martial Arts Buddies
f. NOT MINDLESS FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE BLACK HOLES!!!!!!!! As these can actually have a detrimental affect on my mental state
a. I am a huge introvert and like to hide from my roommates, this needs to change
b. Playing tabletop games
i. Dungeons and Dragons
ii. Warhammer 40K
c. Do homework and blog work in my school’s library or coffee shop instead of hiding in one of the library’s cubicles or my room
d. Grab coffee with a friend
e. Have friends over
f. Be more social at church (something I’ve been struggling with for a few months).
Disclaimer: I understand that not all believe as I do. This is from a Protestant Christian perspective and is not meant to exclude anyone within or without of the Christian faith. This is in no way I am asking anyone to believe as I do or practice Christianity as I do. Disclaimer over.
a. Prayer throughout the day
i. Small and quick prayers
b. Crying out to God
i. The Books of Psalms and Job are my main influences here as both of these works express extreme emotion and even some doubt in God and His character, which can be healthy at times – so long as it ends with faith.
c. Meditative Prayer
i. I grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition, and while I would consider myself a Protestant now, I understand the value and effects of meditative prayer, such as the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy. While I do not agree with the theology behind these two specifically, I do see the practice as a helpful means to provide a structured medium to focus on God.
2) Biblical Meditation
a. This is reading the Scriptures in how the Hebrew People meant for them to be read. The Bible was written to be muttered to oneself and done so repeatedly over a lifetime, and discussed with fellow believers. These interactions are often long debates and discussions, and are a part of a long, and often forgotten, tradition of Scriptural study within the Judeo-Christian faiths.
3) Theological Study
a. It should be no surprise that I am a huge nerd, and Christian Theology is absolutely fascinating to me. When I took a couple theology classes my Junior Year of College, it truly helped my faith to blossom and deepen. This tells me that if I study theology then a similar result will occur. This also goes along with that same tradition stated in the above point.
4) Christian Fellowship
a. This goes right back into socializing from the section on mental health.
b. Christians are commanded to be in community with each other (Hebrews 10:25), as it strengthens our communal and personal faith, and allows us to have a stable and safe environment for us to grow and live, if the faith community that one is a part of is healthy.
This is my main plan and strategy. I know that this is going to be difficult and slow, but I am honestly okay with that. While at one point I wouldn’t have been happy with a long and drawn out process, I now understand the value in a slow progression. This is actually why I’m not graduating until May of 2020 (meaning a fifth year of college), since I would have faced a massive workload that would send me spiraling again. This is the long haul, and if I am truly committed to my health, to this art, and I would argue to God, then taking it slow will be worth it. I know there will be struggles and setbacks, but if I come out at the end of all this better and reaching my fullest potential, then I have done my job and it will be a glory onto my God.
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