Although I consider myself to be a fairly healthy individual, there is something I routinely fall short on: self-care and listening to my body. We could look to that time I went to work with the flu, and that time I threw my back out and continued to shovel snow as just a few examples. The fact is, eating right and working out are only two of the ingredients that make for a healthy life. Emotional well-being also plays a huge part. And also, sleep (something I routinely skimp on).
I've had a lot going on the past few weeks and refusing to give up control, I continued to try to squeeze in all of my usual activities. Between working long hours, fitting in gym time, blogging, and starting new jobs, I was averaging 5 hours of sleep a night! For weeks. I guess I knew my body would eventually revolt but I kept pushing the envelope. Two weeks ago I came down with a cold from one of my kids and that should have been my first warning sign. But did I listen? Nope. Typical. Well, this weekend I was hit with a stomach bug from one of my kids! Ughhhhhhh, I don't think I've ever even had a stomach bug as an adult. I'm pretty sure I would remember if I had. Totally blows. Don't catch one. But once again the Universe speaks. Take care of yourself Bean or I'm gonna take care of you! BAM! Sucker punch to the stomach, literally.
I've always been an empathetic person, but since I began working in childcare full time, this quality has become even more pronounced. I spend 8-10 hours of every day focusing all of my attention and care on another human. Sometimes, I don't even have time to eat, drink or use the bathroom! It sounds ridiculous to type that out, and I'm pretty sure it is. Even moms make time to do those things! The thing is, I think when you work in social services/healthcare/etc, it becomes even MORE important to care for yourself. All day long, you are draining yourself to fill the vessels of others, but just like that quote up there says "...you cannot serve from an empty vessel". If you drain yourself dry, there's nothing left for you at the end of the day, and no way to replenish yourself to get back out there tomorrow.
I routinely push through pain and wear myself thin thinking I can handle it, or these times will make me stronger. I mean, I am a distance runner after all! But just like in running, pushing too hard and not making time for rest (and stretching/conditioning/etc) WILL lead to injury. I know I've got to become better at listening to my body, and taking care of it better. This starts with making sure I'm at least tending to my biological needs throughout the work day! It also means when things get crazy, that I concede control and let my body do the directing. If that means skipping the gym, or unplugging from social media for the night, so be it. Sleep is important and healing, and all the healthy food and working out in the world won't help if you are sleep deprived.
Self care is about self respect and it's not selfish. If you don't respect yourself enough to take care of you, why should anyone else? I remember something my grandfather used to tell us all the time -"Always look out for #1". And he meant to always look out for ourselves. Back then, I used to think that mantra was kind of selfish, but now I realize how wise he was. You MUST take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else. No one else but you is looking out for your best interests. He was a great man in many ways, and so smart the way he went about his life. Listen to your elders kids, and most of all, listen to yourself!
Takeaway: If you are feeling stressed/tired/overwhelmed, DON'T ignore or try to push through those feelings. Feel them, listen to your body and take the actions necessary to get yourself back to a healthy place. (Speaking to myself here too!)
Do you practice good self care?
How do you make time to take care of yourself when life gets crazy?