Achilles healing: Gurls' talk
From lockdown 2.0 to election tension and a sense of global uncertainty which refuses to quit, it's time to keep mentally fit. Locate your Achilles heel to strengthen this resolve. Here, five W women reveal how they've strengthened their weakest link, from literal injury recovery to taking a leap of faith.
Aimee Victoria Long
Tools such as therapy and fitness can truly help
I have always battled with anxiety and depression, as well as an eating disorder when I was younger. I've found training to be such a benefit for myself that, in recent years, it has become an outlet and almost a form of therapy. Whenever I feel stressed and as if my anxiety is getting the better of me, I go on a run or join a class (either virtually or in person) and, 15 minutes in, I always feel so much better.
I think mental health can be an ongoing battle. However, leaning on the support of others, trying to live in the moment and using tools such as therapy and fitness can truly help you overcome periods of flux.
The injury taught me not only about the knee but also empathy
I suffered a knee injury last year where I tore my coronary ligament. It was very frustrating as I couldn’t walk for six weeks, was misdiagnosed, and told I needed an operation that wasn’t always successful. Then I was told I probably wouldn’t be able to squat to the same ability again. For someone whose life revolves around fitness, it was a huge blow and was something with which I really struggled to come to terms. The trouble is, because you use your knees for absolutely everything, it was the most frustrating and mentally-draining injury. After three months I'd had enough and so I paid to see a specialist, who immediately found the problem. Three months later I was back to squatting and building up my strength.
Looking back now, my injury actually taught me a lot and I’m currently studying to be an osteopath in London. I feel the injury has not only taught me a lot about the knee, but also how to be more empathetic with patients. Especially with those who are going through similar situations or have that fear of the unknown.
Uncertainty pushed me off course, so I'm learning to trust my gut and forge my own path
My Achilles heel is allowing uncertainty to push me off my course. I spend, or at least spent, lots of my life looking for: reassurance that I am doing the right thing, approval from everyone around me and second-guessing everything I do. I don't think it's a rare trait, especially for young people, but I've learned that you can never please everyone and never do something perfectly. The best you can do is take in advice from the pros and give it your best shot.
I've also found that usually I know what I want, and when I try to seek approval from too many people, that vision gets blurred to the point that it's unrecognisable. With all the uncertainties of life right now and all the unknowns, this is something that I have to work at more than ever to overcome. I'm learning to trust my gut and forge my own path. As Jane Fonda said, 'The most incredible beauty and the most satisfying way of life come from affirming your own uniqueness.'
Handing in my notice wasn't a challenge – it was managing to stay sane!
My biggest challenge so far has been quitting my stable office job to take on modelling full-time. In fact, it wasn't handing my notice in that was the challenge, it was managing to stay sane afterwards! Working for yourself is incredible, but it isn't easy. There were times where I struggled financially and it was very stressful, to say the least - especially supporting myself in London. I had to find ways to create work such as test-shooting, broadening my skill set and networking. What might seem like small steps at the time really do lead to bigger achievements.
I surround myself with people with similar visions and energy that stimulates growth
My Achilles heel? The voice and limitations of others sometimes takes more priority over my own voice. I’m constantly trying to be present in the moment to make a continuous decision on the opinions of others - whether it serves my highest potential or to reject it. This takes being fully present and alert. I’ve learned to surround myself with people with similar visions and with energy that stimulates our growth. That’s the journey of life to discover oneself and to continue to grow and evolve.
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