Month #9 of Extreme Self-Care

This month is all about taking care of our physical bodies.

When we aren’t experiencing any aches or pains or illness, we don’t give our bodies a second thought. This is especially true when we’re busy or overwhelmed. We tend to take our bodies for granted and just keep plugging along day after day not even really thinking about them. But the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to our bodies.

Cheryl Richardson, in her book,

Extreme Self-Care

says, in essence, ‘if it ain’t broke, let’s make sure it stays that way by providing regular, preventative maintenance.’

When was the last time you made a doctor/dentist/optometrist/chiropractor/massage therapist appointment for yourself?

Here in Canada, we don’t have to pay up front for medical visits so we can’t use financial constraints as an excuse for taking care of our physical selves. And Cheryl, who lives in the States where health care is more costly, stresses that our health is important enough to be made a financial priority. Individual states often offer programs that provide low-cost medical care for those who need help. The time spent researching the options is well worth it.

Perhaps it’s fear keeping you away from the doctor’s office? Fear that the symptoms you heard described on the evening news, and that you’ve been experiencing lately, might be linked to a scary disease you’d rather not have to deal with. So, the fear-driven logic says that if you avoid the doctor, you avoid bad news.

Except that the fear doesn’t go away; ignored doesn’t mean ‘gone.’ Underground worry saps much more energy than you could ever imagine which, in turn, lowers your resistance to disease. And if those symptoms are the early-warning signs of something more serious, putting off the appointment only gives it more time to take root in your body.

Doing the classic putting-ourselves-last mother thing is not a good excuse either. Yes, there is a lot to do. Yes, our children need to get to all of their appointments. But what good do we do our families if we let ourselves fall apart from neglect as we care for them? What kind of a message does that send to our children? Especially our daughters?

Cheryl’s Extreme Self-Care Challenge for this month is two-fold:

One: practice tuning in throughout the day to notice what your body is telling you. Ask it what it needs. Are you tense anywhere? Are you hungry? Thirsty? Do you need to go to the bathroom? Are your moment-to-moment decisions sitting right in your gut?

Pay attention  to those messages!

And do something about them.

Two: Make a plan of action outlining the kind of care you’d like to get in the near future. This starts with a thorough body scan checking for those areas that are calling for attention.

How’s your back doing?

Your hearing?

When was the last time you had a complete physical, including Pap smear or prostrate check?

It doesn’t have to be a medical-related item either. Perhaps it’s time for an updated hairdo–moving from frumpy to feel-good has a very positive effect on your overall health–or perhaps your hardworking feet or hands could do with some extreme care in the form of a manicure or pedicure.

Make a list of the top five things you’d like to take care of. You don’t need to do them all this month, but make a plan to deal with them over the next few months. Post that plan where you’ll see it every day and start scheduling the appointments.

If something on your list is scary–like overdue dental work or an appointment to check out a suspicious lump or mole–call a trustworthy friend to hold you accountable for making the appointment and maybe even to accompany you when you go.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for emotional support when you need it. It’s up to you to take care of yourself, but you don’t need to do the scary stuff alone.

On a similar note, make sure that your health-care providers are your partners, not your parents. Don’t hand over your power. You are in charge of your body, not your doctor. You know when something is ‘off.’ Educate yourself and be your own advocate. Ask to see the test results. Do your own follow-up when you know tests are due back; don’t wait for your doctor to call you. This is your body, your health, your life. 

If you don’t feel heard or respected, find another practitioner. It may mean travelling a bit further out of your way, but ultimately this is your life you’re talking about. If you are not getting the care (read: service) you need and deserve, go elsewhere.

Okay. Consider yourself prepped for the challenge.

Talk to you in a month.

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One Response to Month #9 of Extreme Self-Care

  1. Yvonne says:

    If you listen to your body when it whispers, you don’t have to hear it scream!

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