Journey to Heal-Thy-Self

By Javiar Collins

With a new year comes resolutions. For most, New Year’s resolutions involve becoming a healthier version of ourselves. Eating better, joining a gym, drinking more water, better sleep habits, etc. Whatever the focus, resolutions are often centered on living a healthier, more balanced life.

Health & Wellness
What does it mean to be truly “healthy” or “well”? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”  Health is not just physical. Total health includes a significant mental and emotional component. It is a state of absolute physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of an illness. While physical health is key, we are also spiritual, emotional, and relational beings and these areas can’t be separated—they affect the whole person.

For retired athletes, health and wellness involves becoming whole (again)–being a difference maker, an impact player…but in a different game. The game and role may have changed but the approach and desired outcomes have not. We swap out the equipment used to compete in our sport for a new line of equipment to use the game of life. Addressing our health and wellness will give us the fuel for starting over with without any loss of vigor.

What is “Healthy Self”?
As a retired athlete, I have an intimate understanding of what it means to work at regaining health. My fellow former athletes face a series of challenges transitioning to life outside of professional sports (the Real World); ranging from health issues to financial, mental and emotional challenges. When playing days are over, healing needs to take place. That healing is multifaceted and must be done at the individual level. Your collaborative team, for all intents and purposes, disappears–so it’s up to us to self-heal.

Broken down, “healthy self” literally translates to heal-thy-self. For me, the Heal-Thy-Self initiative is a multi-faceted approach encompassing physical recovery, nutrition and alternative health and wellness components, to personal recovery and professional health which begins with accepting the post-sport paradigm shift. It’s about slowly redefining one’s identity and reincorporating that into the next season of our lives.

With health and wellness comes “medicine”. Historically, medicine has divided into two general categories: Traditional and Alternative. In my experiences as an athlete, traditional medicine has included a heavy reliance on surgeries and opioids. Alternative health has a long history within this society, although it is boldly compared to Quackery, Pseudoscience, and Pseudomedicine. Nootropics, yoga, meditation, stretching, fitness, and nutrition are all included as “medicine” on the path to healing, and recently the scope has enlarged to include cannabis with its increasing acceptance. There is a great deal of research supporting the medicinal healing properties of cannabis. For me, cannabis has been a tie that binds all other aspects of a healthy lifestyle; affording me relief and the ability to push myself further without feeling like I’m going to break.

Team A4C
I have been blessed with the opportunity to redefine my own narrative through self-healing. Still, the desire to have the support of a team has never left. Athletes For CARE has become an integral support system as I work towards continued self-healing. We all need each other. The need for former professional athletes to find a new team with whom they can heal and rebuild to successfully enter the next phase of their lives is key. The A4C Team helps fill that void. As an organization created by athletes, for athletes, our shared experiences work together. We work as a team, keeping one another forward-minded and driven to become who we were meant to be. Fully healed. Fully whole.

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