Change can be difficult and taking the first step is definitely not easy. My next guest in the Ageing Well, Living Well series, is friend and author, Toni Pike. Toni has written several books, fiction and non-fiction, however it was a health scare on a recent holiday that made her look at her life and what she needed to change.
Ageing & Living Well by making positive changes
Making Positive Changes in My Life in 2020
I’m retired, and my main hobby over the last four years has been writing thrillers. In fact, I had become somewhat of an author-holic, working long hours on my writing and probably pushing myself too hard. However, in 2019 I also had other concerns that were wearing me down.
One of my main passions over the last ten years has been travelling, and I was on a four-week trip to France, England and Germany when disaster struck. The tour of Northern France was incredible, and then we spent eleven days in northern England, visiting the Lake District, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland and Durham. A strange headache had been bothering me for a few days, and was still there the night before we were due to fly to Germany for a 12-day tour.
I never made it, instead having an emergency medical episode that kept me in hospital for several days and could have killed me. I was back home in Australia a week later, and thankfully I’ve recovered well. But I totally believe that my medical problems were brought on by stress and emotional anxiety, which had also caused exhaustion from lack of sleep. On top of that, a hectic travel schedule had led to migraines and even more fatigue.
I knew that my medical problem was likely to re-occur and I wanted to do everything I could to prevent that from happening. That meant making some major improvements to my life.
Diet and Exercise
I already followed a well-balanced, healthy diet but tried to make sure I was really maintaining that every day. I also made sure that I kept up my exercise program. That is fairly moderate, consisting of a long walk every day and a series of exercises, but I find it essential for my health.
Getting enough sleep became a major priority of mine, as I saw that as a big factor in my illness. I had got into the habit of checking my iphone if I was restless during the night, so I knew that had to change and I now leave it alone for eight hours a night. It made a huge difference! I also found that I was lying awake, worrying about all my problems. I started using some deep breathing and relaxation to help me fall asleep and also made some changes to my sleeping posture. My sleep improved dramatically and I felt so much better for it.
Stress and Anxiety
Prior to my medical episode, certain things in my life had literally left me feeling traumatised. I believed that was the main cause of my illness and knew I couldn’t allow that to continue. I read that feelings of trauma originate in the body. You “feel” emotions like being upset, angry, hurt or powerless – you don’t “think” them. And you can’t heal from those feelings by thinking about them, either. Instead, the best approach is to focus on your body’s reactions to stress and anxiety, and learn how to control that.
For the first time in my life, I tried meditation and deep breathing several times a day. It had a significant effect, drastically reducing my stress levels. I now do that on a daily basis and find it enormously beneficial.
Instead of focusing on things outside my control, I also worked on my own self-validation issues. Most people are kind, honest and supportive. They truly care about others and don’t like to hurt anyone. But there is a small percentage of people who will deliberately engage in unpleasant behaviour and enjoy manipulating and upsetting others.
When someone is critical or difficult it’s easy to become emotionally derailed. Slowly but surely, your self-confidence can be chipped away.
I realised that I had allowed that to happen too often. Instead, I focused on my own opinion of myself. I realised that I should be my own best supporter, valuing and trusting myself. I also needed to be gentle and kind to myself, and to be self-reliant rather than depending on other people. These are all lessons that have taken me many decades to learn and I’m really only just starting to understand them. I’m also learning about leading an authentic life that is aligned with my personal values of honesty, loyalty, integrity, creativity, simplicity and independence.
My main lesson from 2019 was the realisation that I needed to take responsibility to change my own life. No one else was going to do that for me.
In 2020 I’m learning to be self-reliant, nurturing and supporting myself and living authentically aligned with my values.
In the next few years I see myself writing more novels, spending much more time with my grandchildren and the rest of my family, doing more travelling, going out with friends – and devoting time every day to staying fit and healthy.
Do you need or want to make some changes in your life? Join me for the Make It Happen 2020 Challenge. It’s never too late to start!
Toni Pike enjoys writing exciting thrillers, travelling and spending time with family and friends, and she believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day. After starting her career as a veterinary surgeon, she later taught high school and worked in the public service. She now lives in Canberra. Toni is the author of Desolation Bluff, Dead Dry Heart, and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series. She’s also written a book of travel tips, Happy Travels 101, and a weight loss book, The One Way Diet.
All my books can be found HERE.
You can find me online here:
Instagram: @authorlovestravel – Sharing my travel photos from around the world
Facebook: Toni Pike – Author
Twitter: @piketoni1 Toni Pike
Linkedin Toni Pike – Linkedin