Article By Starr Phoenix
I have often felt that the only time I really take care of myself is when I get sick. That’s when I get enough sleep, hydrate effectively, eat truly nourishing foods and give myself a break from my hectic schedule. When I am sick I am forced to realize that I have not been doing a good enough job of treating my body like the amazing machine it is. So why is it only when I’m feeling miserable do I take stock of how I’ve been maintaining it?
Well, like the rest of us, it seems that the moment I start to feel healthy and energetic again, I forget! And then I start the cycle all over again. I start trying to live like a superhero – feeling like I can do it all! And ultimately, I eventually get worn down again and get sick again. Repeating the viscious cycle. I feel guilty for not taking care of my body and guilty for not being well enough to take care of my responsibilities.
So what can we do to stop this cycle? Well, first of all we need to understand what weakens our immune system to begin with. The main culprit in our modern world is a steady onslaught of STRESS. We all experience it. We are trying to keep all those balls in the air – work, family, home, hobbies, etc. We try and do too much and we don’t take time to fit in self care. That’s when we bottom out. In fact, over time, the effects of stress on the body will wear us down. Just like a car battery losing charge over time, our immune system begins to degrade and with it our ability to fight off germs and viruses decreases. Stress also raises blood pressure, increases the chances of heart attack and stroke, decreases fertility and speeds up the ageing process.
None of us will likely change everything in our life right away. But what we can do is begin to take small steps toward healthy change. What can we do to help our bodies meet the superhuman challenges we bring them? Combatting the effects of stress is like buying a toolbox and adding one tool at a time, learning to use each one and eventually becoming a master mechanic – or at least being able to fix a gamit of small problems with ease. So begin today!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Instead of jumping out of bed when your alarm sounds, move slowly and do some simple stretches first. Roll slowly to your side and come to a seated position and take a few deep cleansing breaths to slow the influx of thoughts that start up as soon as your mind wakes. Let the first mindful thought of your day then be something that starts with “Thank you” such as “Thank you for my wonderful healthy body.”
2. Instead of starting with a cup of coffee in the morning, have a big glass of water first. Water stimulates the digestive system and increases the metabolic rate! It also helps flush out toxins and hydrates the tissues. Then when you do have that delicious cup of coffee, your body will enjoy it even more!
3. Take a meditation break everyday. Sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes. Start with just five minutes. Allow yourself to just listen to the sound of your breath as it flows in and out. As thoughts come up, simply acknowledge them and then let them drift on by. You can also try visualizing yourself in a beautiful place that makes you feel happy. Even if you can’t stop the “monkey chatter” of the mind, practicing this regularly will help you feel more calm and centered. Over time, the thoughts will lesson and the calm will increase. Even if you spend the whole five minutes watching thoughts come up and letting them go, do not be discouraged! Notice how your breath has changed the way you feel in your body. Notice how just the mindfulness of practicing this creates calm in your body even if you spent the whole time chasing thoughts out!
4. Take a walk. When you are stressed out, the mind races. Just a few moments walking in the fresh air – no matter the weather – will clear your mind, get your blood flowing and hit that all important internal “RESET” button.
5. Get regular massage. Bodywork is one of the most enjoyable and beneficial treatments for stress available. It boosts the immune system, decreases muscular tension and chronic pain patterns and promotes circulation which increases blood and nutrient flow to the tissues. It also stimulates the body to releases endorphins – the happy hormones that make us feel good! From sleeping issues to migraines to serious health issues, massage is a safe and affordable way to achieve happy bodies and happy minds.
So do yourself a favor – remember that self care is not selfish. When we take care of our bodies, our bodies take care of us. And a happy, healthy body can make us feel like a superhero as we brave this busy, relentless, energetic modern world!