When I was first diagnosed with diabetes I felt very alone. I felt isolated, surrounded by a sea of the unknown. Those were terrible feelings that, if I had let them, could easily have debilitated me and kept me prisoner in a world of negativity and self-pity. I have been known to enjoy a good pity party every now and again but I try not to indulge in them for too long!
In the middle of feeling all of these negative emotions swirling, bubbling and growing inside my mind, I made a decision that this diagnosis was not going to define me – I was going to define it.
So, I set about thinking of what I could do to make that happen. As I reflected on past challenges, and how I had overcome them, I was reminded of the Five Ways to Wellbeing and I realised that that was exactly what I needed. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone or like I was facing something insurmountable. I felt excited!
The Five Ways to Wellbeing were developed by the New Economics Foundation. They developed them based on evidence that was gathered in the UK through the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing, whose report was published by the UK government in 2008. I was first introduced to them by my sister, and executive coach extraordinaire, Katrina Boyle, in around 2010. I found them to be powerful, positive and exactly what I needed then, and I guess the universe was reminding that I needed them again now!
U: Knock, knock.
Me: Who’s there?
U: The Universe.
Me: The Universe who?
Universe: The Universe who already told you that you should always use the Five Ways to Wellbeing in your life…..and then watched when you forgot about it…..
Me: Oooohhhhh…..THAT Universe!
The Five Ways to Wellbeing contain, as you probably have figured out, five ways to holistic wellbeing. The title is a bit of a spoiler really…..it should come with one of those spoiler alerts!
The Five Ways to Wellbeing took me from feeling alone to feeling like this….”I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it!” This is how….
I have a natural tendency, even though I am very outgoing, to withdraw and isolate myself. This is not a good tendency and I know that, and thinking about the five ways helps me to focus on connecting. So I set about making connections.
Firstly, I determined to be in touch with my family (who all live in Australia) more often. This has proven a little hard to achieve as they all have busy lives but I am doing what I set out to do, and that is to try an contact them more often.
Secondly, I turned to the internet and sought out support groups to connect with. There I found the amazing, supportive and knowledgable people of the Diabetes Online Community (#DOC), the Diabetic Connect Diabetes Education (#DCDE), the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (#DSMA), and more recently, the Australian DOC (#OzDOC). I now feel that I have connections all over the world who I can turn to, and who can turn to me, about diabetes, health, etc. I’m so ‘excited’ that the interwebs really delivered on a ‘web of connections’ for me. I am also extremely grateful. Shout out to all of the tweeps of these groups….you all make this D life so much more do-able!
Being active is super important for everybody but especially for people with type 2 diabetes. I set myself some goals and I am ‘excited’ to say that I have achieved them. My week now looks like this –
1. A 7-minute high frequency, high intensity workout each day.
2. 60 minutes of swimming three times per week.
3. At least 5000 steps per day.
And it’s working because I am now 21.4kg lighter than I was 12 weeks ago! Now, that is something for me to be excited about!!
Getting a diagnosis like diabetes can make you become very ‘me’ focused, which is pretty understandable really. I was doing that a lot initially but when I was reminded of the five ways, I flipped that on its head. Not only did I start taking notice of all of the things and people around me but also things in the wider world. Issues that I am really passionate about became apparent to me once again and I decided to do something about them. I got so ‘excited’ about noticing things that needed changing, that I set about advocating for them again. I have always been very passionate about gender equality and women in leadership, so I decided to become an active advocate for these things again. The journey so far has been very exciting and I see this as a cause I can achieve a lot for. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!
As an educator this one has never been far from my consciousness, but now, with health advocacy and gender equality advocacy, I am reading and learning pretty much all day….everyday. I am loving it! The reading ignites my passions further and the learning and new knowledge really excites me to go out and make an impact in both of these areas. Stand clear people….passionate advocacy is happening!
Giving and social enterprise have always been two things that have played a huge part in my life. They are two of the main reasons that we have lived overseas in so many developing countries (Singapore, where we live now, is our first developed overseas posting). We have worked really hard to show our three daughters how fortunate we are to have what we have, and why it is important to give back.
Even so, in the last six months, I had not been as focussed on this as I could have been. So recently I registered for a mentoring program where experienced leaders, like me, give free mentoring to young women wanting to start their own businesses or advance in their careers. I am especially excited about this program and I can’t wait for the first mentoring round to begin!
I have also been giving my time to health advocacy and sharing the information and knowledge I have gained in my short diabetes life journey!
The Five Ways to Wellbeing are simple and easy to implement in anyone’s life. So, if you want to get excited, reconnect to your own life, move forward, or just get out of a rut…..then I highly recommend implementing the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me…..I have to go be EXCITED!