When most people think about living healthy, they think eating right and exercising. But there is so much more to being healthy than that. There is spiritual health, mental health, emotional health. It’s about what you put in your body just as much as what’s on and around your body. Nobody’s perfect and if someone tells you they have their act together in all of these areas, they’re lying. We’re human. Life gets busy and stressful, we get tired, and things fall by the wayside from time to time. It’s normal. What is key is doing what is right for you and picking back up as soon as you can.
I want to share a personal story to highlight the importance of something we don’t talk about enough when we talk healthy living in our culture: the importance of listening to your body and being gentle with yourself. Nobody’s perfect and this is a personal example of what not to do.
As for most of us, life was very busy for me leading up to and around the Christmas/New Year holiday stretch. I was taking health coaching classes, working full-time, getting a coaching practice started, working out, taking care of a household, Christmas shopping, cooking, traveling, and meeting my family and friend obligations. On top of that, I was taking on a lot of other people’s problems as my own and all that stress and activity was putting me in a place where all I could focus on was what was going wrong and how much more I had to do.You’ve been there, right?
The signs of burnout were there. Right in front of me. I was tired no matter how much I slept. I was cranky and overly emotional. Life felt foggy. I felt…yucky, like I was just off. But I kept pushing.
By the time the New Year rolled around, I was sleeping 10 hours on the weekends, I had developed a planter’s wart on the bottom of my foot, I had a tension headache that lasted for days, horrendous acid reflux so I couldn’t even take Advil for the headache, a horrible breakout on my face, and I just felt…mopey. I had burnt out and shut down. My body was pulling all the alarm bells telling me I needed to cut the crap and take care of myself.
It was the third day of the tension headache when I had missed out on the holiday weekend because I felt so awful that I saw what was happening. In that moment, I gave myself permission to take care of me. To say “no” to the things that I didn’t want to do. To take a break from working out so I could recharge. To ask for help getting things done.
Most importantly, I didn’t berate myself for doing these things. Listening to your body also means being gentle with yourself. Remember that you’re human and you’re going to need a break now and then and you’re going to have to settle for “good enough” once in a while.
There will be times on your wellness journey that you want to jump right in and take on every goal at once. And if you swing and miss, you’ll want to beat yourself up. Life is not a race; it’s a marathon. You have miles and miles ahead of you, so you need to slow down and check in with your body every once in a while. How do you feel? What do you need? What could you do without? Some miles will be slower than others and you may need people to help you along at some points. That is OK because you’re still moving forward and you will get there.
Connect with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Have faith in yourself.