You’ve got to take care of yourself. No one else will.
With so many things going on in our lives: the deadlines, the meetings, the appointments, the meet-ups, the calls, the work — it gets so easy for us to forget about ourselves. Oh well, we think that all these deadlines, meetings, appointments, meet-ups, you name it, are for us? For our career? For our future? Yes, we might want to think again.
I have nothing against work, really. It’s just that, I was too, in that situation before. I got so caught up with work that I missed lunch time, or dinner time, or exercise time. I got so caught up with all those deadlines, that only later I realize: I have other things to take care and think of, besides my liability at work. And that is my body, my sanity, and my relationship with the people surround me (and/or with God, if you believe in one). I have other identity besides work — a fact that I sometimes forgot.
So when I actually got the time to think about this, I realized more and more that we owe our body a lot more than just a bath and two or three meals a day. It needs nutritions, exercise, rest, and peace in order to function well. And for so many people that have been taking our body for granted, I am included, we ignore this fact until we get (very) sick.
A lot of time we do not understand the connection that our body has with our mind. That a lot of sickness comes from unhealthy mind (read: too much stress).
If you find yourself guilty of the aforementioned facts (read: taking your mind, body and soul for granted), these are the 5 things you want to consider doing to help you take care of yourself:
There’s a reason why Ariana Huffington started the movement “Thrive”. That very reason is the fact that people consider sleeping as a waste of time. Oh well, if you spend 8 hours a day to sleep, you’re wasting 1/3 of your life, does it ring a bell to you? She is talking about gaining back the control of our lives and that starts with sleep. She must not be joking, no? So if you really want to understand the various benefits of enough sleep each night, you might want to read her book. All I can tell you that not only it helps you function better at work, it helps to avoid all kinds of critical illnesses that you probably do not want to have ever, do you?
This is nothing but very true in my case. I honestly don’t know if it’s also part of getting old, but these days I need to sleep for at least 8 hours every night in order to feel right in the morning. To be honest, I haven’t got sick for the past few months because of this 8 hours of sleep records. Indeed, it was the longest months in history (as before I would at least caught a flu every month or two).
Well, it may be one self-fulfilling prophecy, but if you’ve been skipping so much sleep because of work, or because you want to keep that work hard, play hard thing, you want to think twice. Sleep deprivation is very close to obesity, heart diseases, even Alzheimer. So…. why don’t you start with the Thrive movement for desktop research?
Eat nutritious food
Have you ever felt like “giving yourself a treat” and then eat in a fancy restaurant for a very decent meal? Because I am guilty as charged on this one. I mean, who doesn’t do that? Especially after a bad day? Don’t you feel like doing yourself a favor by doing so? Guess what, most of the meals in a fancy restaurant does not cut it. It does not do you a favor, it may probably be the other way around.
Again, I have nothing against fancy restaurant because I go every now and then for the nice food. But I try as much as I can to cook my own food: become really aware about the food you get into your body. When you cook your own food, it may not be as nicer, and that’s because you use nutritious, healthier ingredients. The nicer the bread this, the more milk they probably pour into the dough. The fluffier the cake is, the more butter they melt into the batter. It does not have to be very complicated, greens and all those salad ingredients don’t need you to cook them. And a bowl each day really keeps the doctor’s away, in my case.
I try my best to cut down on artificial sugar, preservatives, fatty-fattening, processed food. Every now and then, I eat fresh food, and get sugar only from fruits. So far, it worked out quite well. You are what you eat, one can say, so be really careful about all those junk food because it’s highly processed, and with processed food usually comes a lot of sodium.
My tips is to understand your calorie intake, nutritions your body may need, and take on fresh, uncooked ingredients as much as you can.
Another thing to consider is to do some sports. A lot of people are lazy to do so, because of various different reasons. Me? I feel lazy because I need to wash and dry my hair afterwards — and that, my friend, takes me a while and I find it a hassle.
The motivation that keeps me going is that I always remind myself to use my legs when I still can. I remind myself that there will be days when I want to use my leg but I couldn’t. So before that day come, I better take the best use of my legs to exercise. Very scary, indeed. But that helps.
If I read correctly, we will need around 150 mins of exercise a week. So if you’re doing 20 mins of exercise each day, you actually help your muscle and joints to work out, not to be worn out.
Embrace your emotions
A healthy body comes from a healthy mind, I believe. So I really learn hard to detach myself from negativity. This one is really tough because, some people are just born with it. To be precise, some people grow up with it so that it becomes a habit that is very hard to kill. In my experience, it takes years to practice and I am still struggling even to this date.
As women, it’s so easy to get influenced by our emotions, especially when making decisions. That’s when emotional eating and/or shopping, besides emotional fighting happens. We were led by our emotions, including the not-so-wise ones. And so there are times when we regret the decisions we make, or the actions we take, all because it was an emotional one. And we blame ourselves, punish it and feel even worse.
What I learned from the Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World was that we’ve got to learn to acknowledge all these emotions, let it go, and move on. We need not blame ourselves for feeling down low, we just need to admit it, forgive ourselves, and focus on the next steps. For this, meditation helps me to really detach myself from the stress I am caught up with, let it go and move on. Writing too, actually. When I could not sleep because I feel too angry, I tried to channel it through writing just to admit it, be rational that there’s nothing I can do about it, and let go – at least for the night.
It also takes a skill to differentiate things we can and cannot control. So by going deep into this area, we will find a happier, more peaceful life. Let’s not give in to our stress and let it defeat us. Relax, this will take time to master so don’t beat yourself up when you are still unable to take this negativity away from you and let go.
Stop giving a f*ck
Last but not least, there’s only so much we can do in life. For a perfectionist, I really struggled to not give a f*ck about all the wrong things that happened around me. I wanted to scold the waiter for bringing a dirty plate to my table in a fine dining restaurant and for not being able to explain and apologize. I wanted to tell my Dad that he is being such a control-freak and that he should stop doing that. I wanted to tell the guy who is cutting the line to back off. There were so many things I wanted to get my hands dirty on, for a very little advantage to my side.
And so I learned about this counter-intuitive principle from Mark Manson, to stop thinking and taking care of the things that I have very little control of — and just focus on the things I can control. It also helps to understand my priorities, and not to push myself too hard on things that probably don’t matter in the next 5 or 10 years. Believe me, it’s damn hard to do, but I managed to do it recently, so can you. I mean, if somebody did wrong to your pizza or even break your heart, would it really still be essential in the 5 years window? Life is short, so we want to utilize the time for the things that are critical. I know, easier said than done, but definitely worth the try.
Again. These work-thing is probably exciting for you. Or even necessary for your financial stability and independency. And the list goes on. But, you’ve only got one body, one brain, and one lifetime to live on. If you’re not going to take care of yourself, who else would you think will do that for you?
*photos are taken from unsplash.com