Today finds me semi-incapacitated with a stomach virus. Sickness doesn’t happen to me very often because I am fastidious about taking care of myself. I don’t let my reserves get depleted, so I always have enough to defend myself against invaders. Well, usually. Even my iron defenses couldn’t withstand whatever freakish bug my daughter brought home from school. So here I sit, thinking about self-care and how to better implement it. This is what I came up with.
When You’re Sick, Be Sick
When you’re sick, be sick. Allow yourself the time to recover from whatever you have. I understand that you have a job or kids to take care of and it is very difficult to take time out. This is where a change of mindset will help you. It is not polite to go to work if you are under the weather, but more than that you will recover faster and be more productive if you give yourself the time you need to heal.
If you can’t miss work at least try to take it easy. Could you ask a neighbor to take the kids for an hour while you nap? Or teach them empathy by letting them care for you. In my case, I am sitting on my couch in jammie pants and allowing myself frequent breaks for broth and bathroom time. It helps that I work online, so I can’t pass my sickness on to anyone else. I also have plans for a nap later this afternoon.
Heart Sickness Counts, Too
Along the same lines, when you are emotionally overwhelmed or heartbroken, feel what you are feeling. Allow yourself to fully experience the pain, anguish, or anger. Work through it. Break it down, unpack everything that you find there. That way, you digest the emotion and release it so it doesn’t get stored. Fully experiencing your emotions in real time also allows you to learn from the experience and maybe learn about yourself. If you store the emotion you will have to deal with it later, but you won’t learn anything from it. Even though it’s hard, deal with emotions as they happen. Don’t judge yourself for what you are feeling just feel it fully and honestly.
Get some sleep. This might be the most important piece of advice in this article. If you don’t get enough sleep nothing else will work for you. While you sleep, your brain and body stop spending energy on consciousness and moving about, and start cleaning and repairing. Sacrificing sleep is the fastest way to sabotage your wellness efforts because cleaning and repairing is the path to wellness. You won’t lose weight if you aren’t getting enough sleep. Your symptoms will increase if you don’t get enough sleep. You won’t get well if you don’t get enough sleep. So make sleep a priority. Especially if you are physically or emotionally taxed.
Eat Well to Be Well
Give yourself good food. When we’re sick good food becomes a priority, like chicken soup, but what about the rest of the time? When your body gets what it needs and doesn’t have to filter out a ton of toxins from your diet, it has a greater capacity to defend itself against environmental toxins and illness. See this week’s Nourish Me Wellness blog for ideas on how to demystify nutrition. It publishes Wednesday morning.
Use Self-Care to Better Serve Others
Taking care of yourself is not selfish, in fact you do others a disservice if you don’t take care of yourself. If you take care of yourself first, you are able to give the best version of yourself to others. If you don’t take care of yourself you are giving something less than the best version of yourself to others. Imagine how you feel when you just get back from a relaxing day at the spa or a restorative yoga class. You are full of love and patience. Now imagine the you that used all of your energy at your unfulfilling job then came home to your family. You are frazzled, tired and not able to give your best to the people you love. Which is the better option?
I’m going to take the rest of the day to recuperate and come back tomorrow refreshed and ready to give my all to my family and the people I serve.
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