I understand what it feels like to be in the depths of depression and hopelessness. I have had a lifelong battle with stuttering, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, depression, and suicide.
I continually fight these battles and have learned to heal and recover through family, friends, and ultra-running. Since attempting to take my life on September 12, 2009, I have developed wellness tactics to help me journey through life to achieve optimum performance and to have a better work-life balance to lead a more healthy, peaceful, and purposeful life.
It is important to have mental health, physical health, and relationship health so that one has a plan, enhanced energy, and stress tolerance. Having a plan is essential for developing the confidence to achieve your goals. I wish I knew 35 years ago what I have come to learn as I would have been able to live a more peaceful, happier life.
I have learned that the road to a healthier, more purposeful life requires that you listen to discover your life’s journey, learn from your failures, and then take steps to heal. My hope is to help others gain insights and skills they need to heal, find purpose and live their best life. I do not want anyone to ever be on the brink of suicide as I was.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has made many of us experience fear, anxiety, and depression, due to the isolation, lack of structure, financial uncertainty, new work from home realities, childcare pressures, and working long hours under threat of infection. These stressors have all impacted our mental health and overall well-being.
Since my suicide attempt, I have found inner peace through endurance ultra-running races, which are running events longer than a marathon: 50 kilometers, 50 miles, 100 kilometers, and 100-mile races. I find that ultra-races are just like the “Hills of Life” (see image below). You need to prepare — start–work as a team — stay focused — finish. Training and competing in ultra-running races continue to help me learn self-coping skills to overcome mental and physical challenges. When running through the mountains on rugged terrain during an ultra-race, I find that mental toughness is more important than physical endurance.
Long-distance ultra-running is what keeps me connected with helping others, both spiritually and emotionally. It has helped me cope with adversity and learn about myself in more ways than I dreamed possible. During some of the most difficult times of my life, I have found hope, healing, and purpose on the trails. I am at total peace on the trails. I still struggle with my demons, and my pain from depression is worse than a physical injury. When I cycle into a depressed state, I cannot sleep, think clearly, make decisions, or eat. I also have shoulder pain and have bad thoughts. I have realized that how one handles setbacks and failure is key to developing resiliency and well-being.
I want to share three tools with you to achieve better work-life balance and lead a healthy, peaceful, and purposeful life:
- Make a plan
- Improve efficiency
- Be a corporate athlete
My wife and I developed “TACTICS” to achieve a healthier, peaceful, and more purposeful life with optimum mental, body, and spirit performance. I encourage you to practice your “TACTICS” daily to be your best:
Take time for yourself and lead a peaceful life
Always eat healthily, exercise and sleep
Continually self-improve and remain coachable
Treasure family and friends
I choose the day I have
Control disappointments and respond positively
Smile and laugh
Anthony Avellino is a pediatric neurosurgeon.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com