Sometimes everyone fails at self-care. The key is in learning how to bounce back from that mistake. Ever since I got home from my four day bicycle trip around Cape Cod, I’ve been cranky and short-tempered. It made no sense! After four days spent outside doing something physical I thought that I should be feeling emotionally and mentally recharged, if physically exhausted. What was wrong with me?
Eventually, I realized my mistake. You see, I had been assuming that my vacation was emotionally restful and relaxing, and under most circumstances it would have been. Normally, I find it very restorative to get outside and get active for a bit, especially when I’ve been stressed. It seems to reset my thoughts and my body and leaves me in a much calmer, more centered, more open state of mind. But this time, it didn’t work out that way. Why? Because it was too damn hot.
You have to understand, I do not handle the heat well. I can become dehydrated after simply walking to the store on a hot summer day, and after 4 days of intense physical exertion in the direct summer sunlight, during a heat wave? I was in rough shape. Despite drinking lots of water and Gatorade, I had the symptoms of heat exhaustion for most of the trip, and even had a brief flirtation with heat stroke on Friday (don’t worry, I was fine). That is not the kind of bodily exertion that restores calm!
So I took Sunday to recuperate, and I kept telling myself that should be enough. I should be fine now. There is no reason to continue to feel terrible, so clearly it’s all in my head. Not surprisingly, that did nothing to help. My body doesn’t care how I should be feeling (or rather, how I think I should be feeling), it only cares how I am feeling, and it patiently continued to feel crappy. (For the record, it never works to tell your body how it should feel. The body knows better than the mind, even when you don’t like what it’s saying)
Today, I finally got the message. I’m taking things slowly, drinking plenty of liquids (which, to be fair, I was already doing, but possibly not with the dedication required), and not setting foot outside. When I feel myself getting foggy I get up for more passion berry iced tea with lemonade (yum!) or go sit quietly to let my mind settle down again. I will continue to do this until I actually feel better.
It would be easy to see this as an inconvenience, or as my body being too needy, but that isn’t the case. Or at least it is not the only truth. My body is sending me a message, which I tried not to hear. But the body knows what it needs, and the sooner we all learn that, the better our lives will be.
So now I ask you, where have you failed to heed your bodies warnings and fallen behind on self-care lately? What can you do to get back on track?