I read an e-card recently that said illness, aches and pains and general discomfort or unease in our bodies are signs that something needs to change. When we don’t feel like ourselves, it’s a signal we need to slow down, smell the coffee and basically take a well-needed rest. This rest might be a physical one because of all that running around that’s been happening lately or it could be mental. You know all that worrying, over-thinking and general fretting you’ve been doing? Yeah, your body hates that.
Last month, as I lay in bed with yet another flu, I reflected on the months previous. It felt like total deja vu as I switched off my phone for the first time in 5 months, snuggled into bed and consumed cup after cup of green tea. It was extremely familiar to me as (like the last time), I thought that my short rest and thousand cups of tea would do the trick fairly quickly and I’d be right as rain and back to work the next morning ready to take on the world. I could almost hear my body laugh at me as I dreamt up such notions and instead, proceeded to feel even sicker. Alas, the tea had not worked. This called for some serious switching off and reflection.
At 29 years old, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a decent immune system my entire life. I’ve never been seriously ill, have been in hospital just a handful of times (mostly for silly “it was bound to happen” injuries) and my general health allows me to avoid antibiotics at least for most of the year. This tells me that when I do get sick, there’s a clear reason for it and well, it means I should climb out from my duvet fort and mountain of lemsip capsules and pay real attention.
Reflecting on the weeks previous to my flu, there were three commonalities that emerged. As I flicked through my schedule, chatted to my boyfriend and considered my overall lifestyle to date, it all started to make sense. I just wasn’t taking care of myself.
As Zumba started to become a nuisance to walk to in the rain, I’d replace those would-be-moving-my-ass hours with work. And instead of taking a well-needed bath to chill mid-week, I’d convince myself I didn’t want to pay more for water and so, would take a brief shower.
I had clearly taken my eye off the ball.
Fast forward to today and after what feels like a never-ending list of aches and pains, I’m feeling healthy again. This means all that reflecting I did followed by lots of bubble baths, paleo snacks and trips to the gym were not in vein. I can offer some enlightenment to those of you who, perhaps feel a bit under the weather right now and possibly more regularly than you’d like.
So what are we missing? Or what was I missing when it came to taking care of myself?
* The gym.
Broken record I know but there is more than a necessity to exercise in order to maintain general health. I don’t go to the gym to lose weight, I go there to de-stress, challenge myself and practice mindfulness. I can guarantee you that as I continue to embark on more frequent gym visits and less dossing of sorts, my health will strengthen just as my muscles do. All it takes is 20 minutes per day of physical activity to make even a little difference, what will it be for you?
As I get older, I notice that I have to make myself stop and chill. I switch my phone to airplane mode the odd day, logout of apps and have even resorted to asking my boyfriend to be my sponsor more recently. My new sponsor’s job is to give me a little kick (not a real one please) when I need to slow down. Whenever I go for a random run mid-week or push the immersion to boost on a rainy day, it’s because Phil has given me the push that I needed.
*Stop, look and listen.
No, it’s not the safe cross code. Every now and again, it’s necessary to stop in our pursuit of happiness and actually take in the good that’s happening. It’s 2015 and we’re all busier than ever. Making sure we focus on the stuff we need to instead of racing to the next point is vital for our mental and physical health. This week, I ensured I sat and enjoyed my cup of tea. I didn’t have my phone out sending texts about next weekend and I wasn’t responding to emails about upcoming campaigns, I was simply enjoying my cup of tea.
And now? I’m enjoying ticking off items on my million to-do lists after which I’ll go and chill. I hope you do too.