Our self-care series rolls on! I'm so excited to share Amarilis' story with you today. If you've been following along, I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am. Click over to the blog and dive into these women's stories - I think you'll love it. If you're enjoying this series, be sure to head over to my Instagram, where I'm sharing a 31 day self-care challenge.
Each day, I'm sharing one thing you can do to take care of yourself. It's been a wonderful way to spend my month, and it's not too late to join in! We're using this challenge to get ready for our Wake Up Call Retreat in April, which is coming up so soon! PS - there are just TWO spots left - we'd love for you to be one of them.
Be sure to join in and tag your photos with #31dayselfcarechallenge - everyone could use a little extra self-care love, right?! I'll pick one photo at the end of the month, and the winner will receive $200 off a ticket to the retreat!
Up until a few years ago, I simply thought of self-care as working out. I thought as long as I went to the gym for at least 45 minutes a day, I was good. At any given time, I was balancing a crazy corporate job, tons of travel, volunteering, family time, and keeping up with an active social life. I did all of this while fighting my genetic predisposition for a growing waistline.
Then, 4 years ago, at the age of 38, I had a stroke while I was at work. In a matter of a few minutes, my entire life changed. I went on to have multiple brain surgeries to remove a growing cyst and tumor, and also developed epilepsy. I started having 5 to 6 seizures a day. It’s scary to wake up one day and realize that the life you once knew could potentially be over or forever changed.
When I tell people my story, they always tend to respond with “I’m sorry!” The funny thing is, I'm not sorry. While I am not happy I had to suffer through this experience, I am grateful for it. It has changed my outlook and perspective on life, and made me realize that taking care of myself is not an option, but a necessity. I also realized that self-care involves many different things – not just going to the gym. It was my moment of awakening.
Since then, in addition to regularly visiting my doctors, I still make it a point to work out at least 5 days a week. The difference is I now do it for my overall health, and not just my ever-growing waistline. I enjoy running, weight lifting, and swimming. I try to mix these up in my daily workout routines. During the summer, I also enjoy paddle boarding. I try to head to the Long Island Sound about 4 times a week. Being out in the middle of the sound, just me, my music, and my board - this brings so much peace to my soul. Those moments allow me to completely disconnect from the world around me. I have also embraced healthier food options. I try to not deny myself any of my favorite foods, but I am more conscious of what I am putting into my body. I have seen how it has a direct effect on how I feel.
Another important part of my self-care routine is making sure to get at least 7 hours of shut eye every night. I don’t skimp on my sleep. I literally build it into my daily schedule. If for some reason I am cut short of those 7 hours, I will build in a nap during the day. This is crucial since exhaustion is one of my triggers for seizures. Another one of my triggers is stress. I believe in the transfer of energy, both positive and negative. As such, I have eliminated any factors in my life that causes my blood pressure to rise or makes me feel like I am being drained of my positivity. This includes toxic relationships, situations, and people. This may not seem like the most obvious form of self-care, but believe me when I say it has done wonders for my overall sense of peace. Part of loving yourself means not allowing others to transfer their negative energy into your space.
In an effort to alleviate stress, I also left a 17-year career in advertising for a business development opportunity. As a sales director, I now work remotely and have the opportunity to schedule my day as I see fit. This career change has allowed me to find balance in my life. I love my career, but it’s no longer my only focus in life. I now have time to do the many other things that make my soul smile like traveling, making jewelry, watching football, and spending time with my pug, Reese.
Ironically, being forced to take care and love myself has opened the door to so many other wonderful life events. I have found love. I have embraced my talent as a jewelry designer and maker and have started selling my pieces. This year, I will be moving to a sunny and warm location where I can paddleboard with dolphins all year round. The sudden onset of epilepsy, while scary and gut wrenching, has forever changed my life in so many positive ways. Its forced me to make myself a priority, the epitome of self-care. As a result, I have found pure happiness.
Your story of self-care and health is so inspiring, Amarilis! Thank you so much for sharing your story.