How well do you take care of yourself?
I recently experienced some major jet lag. I was so tired, and I just couldn’t shake it. I HAD to sleep. In the middle of the day. It felt so indulgent, but was absolutely necessary. Being accustomed to overcoming most things with sheer will, it caught me a little off-guard.
It made me wonder how many subtle cues my body sends me that I ignore, allowing my own agenda to just steamroll over them.
We may care for ourselves when we have no choice, like when we are so ill that we are physically incapable of doing anything. But why do we wait until that point to finally give into our needs?
And that is just the physical side. How much mental strain or emotional stress do we put ourselves through before we exercise some self-care? Is it really surprising that so many people get to a breaking point?
What if we start to intervene before it is too late? BEFORE we make ourselves physically, mentally, or emotionally sick? How much disease and illness could we avoid?
In order to do that, we have to do a couple of things:
- First, we must become more attuned to the signals we are receiving. We have to stop ignoring them while they run in the background like irritating noise. The loud ones are pretty easy to pick up. But sometimes, we have to listen a little more carefully for the quieter ones. What hurts? Pain is always a message, whether it is a pain in your neck or a pain in your heart.
- The next step is simple. If it hurts, quit doing it. If you can’t keep yourself awake anymore, stop trying and go to sleep, right? But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. We have to give ourselves permission to administer self-care. That means leaving behind the mindset of self-care being indulgent. And it often means overriding another agenda that is closely connected to our identity.
- If you are a runner, it’s hard to hang up your shoes even if it’s destroying your body.
- If you are a care-giver, it’s hard to put your own needs ahead of someone else’s even if the relationship is unhealthy.
- If you are a pleaser, it’s hard to say “no” even when you know the stress is making you sick.
Where in your life do you need a little more self-care? I encourage you to take some time to do a body check, to pull those background pains front and center before it is too late.
- Where am I feeling physical pain? And what is the source?
- How am I suffering emotionally? And why?
- What mental distress am I feeling? And what is causing it?
But don’t stop there. It’s action time. Take that next step, even if it is challenging.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to nurture myself back to good health?”
And whatever it is…sleep, apologize, see a doctor, break up, take a walk, quit replaying, make the call…give yourself permission to do it. And do it!