Out of necessity, I embarked upon an entire redesign of my lifestyle a few years ago after embracing sobriety.
At the time, it was like learning how to walk again after a difficult injury, because who was I, without my learned behaviors, my go-to coping mechanisms, all of these things which gave me identity, yet were no longer accessible to me? Now, suddenly, I see many around me asking those very same questions I was asking of myself a long time ago. Those answers will come, and difficult as it will be, the work is worth it — that I can assure you.
You’ve probably noticed how much work it takes to maintain an anxiety-free lifestyle, but virtually no effort whatsoever to live an anxiety-FULL lifestyle. Much of that, I feel, is tied to a culture which prizes speed and nonstop competition for attention and gratification. Anxiety comes with that territory — a constant future trip built around FEAR. That cycle is awfully hard to break out of once you’ve found yourself trapped in it. I personally have found it helpful to build my own life based around the Seven Pillars you’ve often heard me talk about. They’re not just fun hobbies, but exercises that I use to stay mentally healthy. It’s what I use now, every day, to keep myself together. Let me explain.
Illustration by @Nurul Kusumaningrum
The seven pillars in everyday life
While I use the 1CaB products every day, they merely prep my mental mindset for the work i do with the Seven Pillars. We’re currently compiling a book on the routines and rituals you can use as mental health exercises. For now, we can tell you that one should integrate each pillar into one’s life every day. Here’s why:
If you’ve suffered through the constant openings and reopenings of public parks, you don’t need to be reminded of nature’s importance. It certainly needs to be preserved in order to prevent zoonotic outbreaks, but it also needs to be accessed by humans to remind them of their point of origin and their obligations to the rest of creation.
The right foods can strengthen the body and the mind. I personally rely on the right mixture to supply the proper building blocks for tryptophan and serotonin. Knowing your unique needs and how your diet can meet them is the first step towards optimal health.
Music has always been medicine, and if you don’t believe me, ask Dr. John, Dr. Hook or Dr. Dre. Music therapy has been an accredited form of mental health maintenance since World War II, and even a simple tone can affect your entire body and mood. It’s why I play my guitar, every day, even though Gary Clark, Jr. can probably rest easy.
Practicing it takes time, effort and consistency. Anxiety-full lifestyles require none of that, which is why it’s so difficult to pull off well, and so easy to abandon. It also challenges our ego, which can be quite threatening. Without a good means of shutting off your ego, you won’t be able to counter its many diseases, which are as contagious in the Information Age as any virus.
Building on each other’s ideas, sharing resources, augmenting each other’s skillsets and creativity — it’s what fosters change. And there’s so much in the world we’re going to have to rebuild together. None of us can do it alone.
Whether virtual or physical, all of us need a community where we can be accepted for who we are. We at Medicine Box are part of several, and through social media and our own communications hope to foster that amongst those who purchase our products.
As I often say, we’re all in recovery from something. Acknowledging that every day and taking one’s healing forward one day at a time is a big part of what everyone can do to make better choices, every day.
What lies ahead
About a month ago, the father of a friend of mine here in Tahoe died of COVID-19. My own sister in Boston works as a nurse at the moment. At any point, just like for you, the virus may get pretty close to me and eventually infect a person I work with or perhaps me myself.
If and when that happens, I recognize that everything I have in my medicine box is going to be put to the test. It won’t just be a blog post or a marketing message, but something I’m going to need to keep me alive and hopeful as the weeks roll on and present me with new challenges. I often tell my online 12-step meetings that at times like these, it’s when we have to truly work all the tools we have at our disposal. This also goes for people who are not in recovery.
The key to this all is awareness of self. And while some are a bit further along on this road than others, it’s never too late to use the proper lifestyle tools, such as the ones I’ve mentioned in this blog, to push forward with this. And by all means, share that tiny bit of hope you have nurtured with others. We must all help each other create light and support for each other. This project is ongoing, and over time, WE can make this better for each other.