When life gets busy, it’s easy to forgo taking care of our body to the same degree that we do when we seem to have time. But it’s not actually about having time… is it? It’s about making time and working with our current set of circumstances to take care of ourselves in the best way we can.
Put your health at the top of your priority list. Without a healthy body, it is difficult to perform optimally in other areas of life. When you fill up your health cup first, you’re likely to find that you are even more capable of tending to the other pillars of importance in your life.
A passage from the article “What Taking Care of Yourself Really Means” by Elizabeth Gilbert beautifully illustrates the care we need to treat our bodies with:
I try never to forget three words the great Cole Porter wrote: "We're merely mammals." Hundreds of thousands of years before we developed our complications and neuroses, we were just another warm-blooded life-form trying to survive in a difficult world. When we forget that fact, we suffer. We get trapped in the shame and blame of our human minds and neglect "the soft animal of your body" (as Mary Oliver so beautifully calls it). But what makes us think we're so special that we alone – unlike any other animal on earth – do not deserve loving care?
Sometimes the only way I can pull myself from the edge of terror or self-hatred is to ask myself, How does my animal feel right now? Then I notice my racing heart, my trembling hands, my shortened breath, my knotted stomach, my shaky legs, my clenched jaw...and I say, "This is no way for an animal to live." I ask my animal what would make her feel better. A walk in the sunlight? A friendly voice? A treat? A nap? My animal teaches me how to take care of her, and she shows me how to care for myself.
That night I said to the neglected woman, "It's time for you to adopt yourself. God gave you stewardship over one dear and vulnerable animal: yourself. Can you embrace that responsibility?"
"Maybe..." she said.
I hope she can. I hope the same for all of us — that we can rescue ourselves from the kill shelter and give ourselves the loving home we've earned just by virtue of being alive.
So sleep when you need to sleep (or, better yet, establish a bedtime routine that allows you to get the sleep you need to perform optimally every day). Eat in a way that serves your body, fuels you, and makes you feel energized. Exercise in a way that makes you feel empowered and strong. Relax and pamper your body when it asks for it. Take it outside. Let it run. Let it play. Let it be.
You will find that when you serve your vessel, it will serve you. Be consistent and devoted to making little changes to your daily actions, and you will experience bountiful improvements over time.
Honour, fulfill, and appreciate your body; after all, it’s where your soul lives.