JOIN FILMMAKER & MODEL KIERA WILLIAMS ON HER JOURNEY WITH WELLNESS
Wellness has been an essential part of my life from a very early age. I have fond memories of ecstatically joining my mother as she followed old school pilates tapes. As a child, I didn’t really focus on “wellness” per-say. I enjoyed engaging in physical activities from sports to workout videos. However, my dietary habits were not quite up to par with my fitness ones. A family history of overeating eating mixed with poverty did not make for an extremely healthy childhood diet. By my teen years, social pressure had led to body image obsession, beginning a cycle of binging and calorie restriction. Apart from a series of highs and lows with my physical habits as a teen, I disregarded my emotional wellbeing completely. From a cultural standpoint, emotional self care wasn’t really a thing. I was expected to achieve excellence in every aspect of my life and bury my emotions. For most of my life, I viewed depression, anxiety, general sadness, and the inability to cope with my emotions (asking for help) as a sign of personal failure. I was always the person that encouraged and validated everyone else’s feelings while ignoring my own mental health needs. I became a master of hiding my own emotions.
Fortunately, I decided to actively take charge of my mental and emotional wellbeing about four years ago. It has been a long ongoing journey, but I begin opening up to people about my own neuroticism after it began to affect my daily life. After a year of just sharing how I felt with friends, I began working on my diet and how I perceived food, focusing on optimal health instead of appearance. Once I started college, I began taking advantage of wellness services and educating myself on better daily practices. Through all of this, the most pivotal moment in my wellness journey has been the moment I identified every lie I had been telling myself from childhood about my worth and replacing those lies with truth. In my current season of life, I’ve created a set of daily rituals (that change as I do). When it comes to my consistent everyday habits, there’s definitely room for improvement, but I am happy with where I am and how much I’ve grown.
As you may have read above, my experience with wellness has been quite the journey. I literally went from viewing (personally) needing a therapist as a weakness; to prioritizing my own physical and mental well-being over everything. When it comes to routine, my mode of wellness is always changing. During my adolescence, when I didn’t quite know what wellness was or the importance of it, music and the performing arts were my forms of self care. I could not survive a single day without some type of artistic expression – be it through music, dance, or writing. At the time, I just thought I liked those things, but they were truly what saved me in the darkest of times.
In high school, it was reconstructing the way I viewed diet and exercise. Now, it’s refining every aspect of my life. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve gone beyond diet and exercise, looking deeply at the emotions attached to certain habits. I think for a person to truly be healed and improve themselves, they have to reflect on trauma, forgive, and grow spiritually. I do that through prayer, meditation, and living my life with a set of standards surrounding love and active kindness. However, the biggest key to wellness for me has been forgiveness – of myself and others.
My favorite CARAVAN classes are definitely “Mid-Day Pause and Reflect,” “Mindful Eating,” and “Meditative Journaling.” As someone living in New York City while pursuing multiple artistic paths, I am always on the go, so taking time to slow down and recenter is essential. Mid-Day Pause and Reflect allows me to ground myself when it seems like things are moving too fast. It’s perfect for calming any kindling feelings of anxiety. Meditative journaling has a similar effect while also boosting creativity. I’m a creative, so having a guide to channeling my deepest thoughts while resetting with a mediation is super useful. Last but not least, mindful eating is a charm for me. I’ve had a weird relationship with food for a long time. Mindful Eating is a great guideline for changing how I view my relationship with food and reminding me to stay on track with good habits.
Prior to making wellness a lifestyle, I was all work and no play. Even the things I was passionate about became a task or challenge to exceed. Creating a daily routine centered around wellness instead of what “needs” to be completed has truly transformed how I feel, perceive the world, and carry out everyday actions. I wake up in a state of joy (and occasional grogginess), am more patient, and I don’t beat myself up over the little things.
In case you’re wondering what my daily wellness routine consists of:
Prayer (Devotion to God/Creator), Meditation, Smiling, Stretching, Writing, Exercise, and Exploring (looking for something new, even in things I know).
These are common wellness routine items, but I think it can be easy to forget them when you’re constantly on the go. To make the most of my time, I usually start my day around 4:30AM with prayer. Either in the early morning or late at night, I do hot yoga or use a steam room to workout/stretch while also using the conditions to deepen my state of meditation and prayer. Throughout my day, I take time to be present, find moments of stillness, and mentally explore parts of my surrounding that I may have not noticed before. I smile any and every chance I get; it releases endorphins and it’s infectious.
Random tip: bike over using the metro. It’s often times faster and you get mini workouts in through the day.