THE JOYFUL RESPONSIBILITY OF TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES
At an extraordinary moment in our history when things simply do not seem to make sense, where life is changing every day and we are potentially struggling with events as they unfold, it may seem hard to take care of ourselves on top of everything else we are dealing with. But in this situation, as in every situation, we have a choice to react, or to respond, and it can be refreshing and inspiring to realise that we have a choice in the way we respond and in the way we are living, a way that can bring a deeper level of love and care to ourselves and our daily lives.
How can we do this in a time of such stress and uncertainty?
We have the choice to connect to the innate wisdom of our body, which is always there, no matter what is going on around us, and to develop a responsive, listening relationship with it that will guide us to take care of ourselves in a way we may never have done before.
It is almost like we have been offered the opportunity to look behind the smoke screen provided by our usual activities and distractions and really see the lack of care we generally afford ourselves. With a willingness to bring this to our attention we can review the way we live and embrace the responsibility we have to take care of ourselves; looking at our daily choices and realising that we can live in a way that will not only mean we are well and strong (in body, mind and Soul) but will also support and inspire others by our living reflection.
If we were to ask the question, ‘What keeps me well?’ and start super simply, we would probably come up with similar aspects of life to look at. Diet, hydration, exercise and sleep (rest), for example.
And if we let go of the rules, accepting that all our bodies, daily lives, work commitments, families etc. are unique, we realise that whilst there are some obvious common sense standards, we need to be in relationship with our body to discern what is needed for us on a moment by moment basis.
With a foundation of responsible care for ourselves, things do not need to go awry even when we are challenged, or new events arise.
So, let’s look at the 4 categories suggested above.
We do know (however much we pretend otherwise) what food truly nourishes and supports us and that there is no perfect diet ‘out there’. If we listen carefully to our body we will be guided clearly and, by way of a playful example, if we were to ask our liver whether it would like us to consume alcohol (a known toxin) what do you think it would say? Our body is always talking to us, letting us know what suits it and what doesn’t, as anyone who has had a hangover will know. The great thing is that with this respectful, listening, responsive approach we will soon gain a great understanding of our body and what supports it from one day to the next.
Many of us underestimate the significance of staying well hydrated. Supporting our biochemistry to have the wherewithal to transport and excrete effectively requires efficient hydration and we all know what it feels like to feel dry. So, let’s not go there. Let’s make it part of our everyday to stay well hydrated and we know that this primarily means consuming plenty of water. Because be honest, do caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks help? If anything, they strip our body of water, that we rarely replace, and bring in other elements that do not support us at all.
Exercise has become such a buzz word in the world and there are certainly many ideals and beliefs about it and what our body should look and feel and be like. What if exercise is not about satisfying a picture but actually about building a body that is strong and fit for our unique lives and that it needs to develop and change on a day by day basis as we and our needs do? And what if exercise is actually our every movement and not just isolated to the daily/weekly slot we allocate?
Sleep is an integral part of our daily cycles and is the culmination of our days. The way we sleep at night reflects the way we have lived the day before and sets us up for the day to come. So being aware of the way we live during the day, the choices we make, the care we afford ourselves, will bring much clarity to the patterns in our lives that do or do not support rest and restorative sleep. Again, by way of example, we know that stress is an agent of adrenaline (our fight and flight hormone) and if that is coursing through our body it is unlikely that we will rest well.
The cool thing about realising that there is not a ‘one size fits all rule book’ for life, is that we have the amazing and joyful responsibility to listen in to our body, get honest and respond to what we do innately know (in spite of much deviation and indulgence) supports us to live well and not only stay well, but live with a vitality so that we are ready for whatever unfolds each day.