2016 was a huge year for me in many different ways. Moving countries and changing careers taught me a lot about myself and my resilience towards change, it also forced me to dive deeper into my health, tune into my body and focus on improving it.

Essentially, 2016 was all about getting back to my ‘good’ place. I have always struggled with fatigue, joint pain and headaches. It had been steadily getting worse over the last few years and was accentuated in 2015 by going back to uni for post-grad study in marketing (while also working full time). The long days, constant sitting and the pressure of getting good grades really took its toll on me. Alongside this, I had some personal issues I was working through which added to my stressed out and tired body. Last year for me was therefore a period of getting myself back on track after all the changes and really tuning into my body to understand what I needed. I tried not to be too hard on myself and allow myself to have a more relaxed year so I could enter 2017 with my old passion and motivation.

These were the top 5 things I learnt about myself in 2016 by tuning into my body.

  1. Dairy is not good for me.

In a blog post last year I wrote about using an elimination diet to try and understand if anything I was eating was contributing to my headaches. I had always assumed the pain was related to my scoliosis and the tension caused by my spinal fusion but thought it was worth giving a try as they were beginning to get unbearable. Not only did I have a break through around my headaches but also around my mood, energy and general wellbeing (probably a result of not being in constant pain. The culprit was dairy and after eliminating this from my diet, I am actually a different person. My joint pain, headaches and fatigue have all decreased and because my body is no longer constantly fighting the pain, it could relax and as a result I can now better understand what I need when I am feeling off.

2. Exercise is essential for me.

Moving daily, whether it is light stretching or a full-blown workout where I am nearly collapsing from exhaustion is critical for my wellbeing. I have a tendency to get very tight muscles (something I want to understand more in 2017) and I need movement to help prevent this. When I’m sore and my muscles are killing me, a light run actually makes it better.

3. I need sleep.

I know some people can survive on 4 hours of sleep, I am not one of those people! I need close to 8 hours a night just to feel normal. If you do need sleep, prioritise it! You may have a million things to do, but it is going to take you 5x as long if you are tired. I am definitely a morning person, so I try to get my exercise out of the way in the morning so I can come home after work to have dinner ready at a reasonable time so I can get to bed early. It might make me a nana, but who cares?

4. I need to eat well.

My body works best on fresh healthy food and lots of veges. I see other people who seem to have no issues eating junk food but my body can’t handle it. It makes me tired, causes me pain and I just feel gross. It really isn’t worth the effect of feeling like crap to eat something that really isn’t that delicious anyway. Healthy food is just as delicious and leaves you feeling great and energised afterwards.

5. Relaxation is key.

This is something I need to work further on a key goal for me in 2017. I have a tendency to worry about things I can’t control and I know it’s not good. I definitely don’t have a solution to this yet but taking a few deep breathes and doing something that makes you happy really helps me. Unless there is something you can actively change about the issue try not to worry. Relax, breathe and focus on what you can do something about.

These are all things I will be taking forward to improve on in 2017. While 2016 was my learning and adjusting year, 2017 is definitely my action taking year! Good luck for everyone embarking on their own journeys, I would love to hear what others are focussing on.

Jay x