Some of our first milestones in life are to develop a regular relationships with eating and sleeping. We might not remember, but parents rejoice when they see us settle into a pattern that matches what we need.
As we get older, though, we do not have people checking-in with us and asking if we are hungry or tired, or insisting that we eat a certain amount or sleep by a certain time because they know it’s best for us even when we don’t feel like we need to. It is completely up to us whether we stick to a rhythm that feels good and supports our well-being or whether we are unbalanced and out of touch with our needs.
This is why routines are helpful. They allow us to go on autopilot and not have to think about things as much. But if your routine does not include you taking care of yourself, then your daily habits may be getting in the way of you fostering a connection with your body and your emotions so that you know what you need in order to be happy and healthy.
It can be helpful to take a step back and look at your day-to-day life. Let’s start with your most foundational connection to yourself, your body. Do you feel that you have a connection with your body? Is it a positive connection?
Our emotions are very much connected to our bodies. When we experience a feeling, it affects us on a physiological level, not just an emotional one. If you are not in touch with your body, you may be unaware of your feelings until they build up to a point where you cannot help but face them because they have become so intense.
Deciding to take stock of things is a first step, but how do you know whether you are healthy? Do you focus on your weight, letting the scale decide for you? What about clothing sizes? Are those kinds of numbers the only way you decide whether or not your body is working and has everything it needs?
In other words, are you truly connected enough to yourself and your emotions to get a full picture of what is going on with you, or are you missing some of the crucial details?
Becoming more in tune with your body is a process, but it is a necessary one for feeling your best emotionally and knowing what you need to stay healthy. What can seem like really basic activities can feel far removed from your actual daily life if you are not connected to your body and actively thinking about what those needs are. And it does have to be an active, consistent process — what worked for you as a teenager may not work in your twenties, what worked for you in your twenties may not apply to what you need in your thirties, etc.
Our needs get more complicated over time. Health concerns, retirement funds, career paths, balancing more and more conflicting commitments with friends and family — our responsibilities and their ramifications increase. As life gets more complicated, people often feel as if they have to sacrifice one or two needs in order to be able to meet the rest. When it comes to that, usually we will choose to sacrifice something related to keeping our bodies healthy before sacrificing something else.
Have you been sacrificing anything that might help you be able to meet your needs and lead a more balanced and fulfilled life?
- Having enough food on hand: How often do you go grocery shopping? Do you cook meals at home?
- Eating consistently: Are you eating enough each day? Too much? Are you ever so busy that you forget to eat or don't have time to eat?
- Sleeping enough: Do you have trouble getting up in the morning? Do you have the energy in general to get everything done each day, or disregard important nutritional considerations out of convenience?
- Being aware of your health: Are you going to the doctor, dentist, etc. consistently, or do you wait until there is a problem to go?
As life gets busier, it’s only natural to take shortcuts and to make sacrifices. But here’s the catch: Eliminating these kinds of healthy choices might save you some time in the short term, but over time you won’t be doing yourself any favors. Your needs are all connected: your health, your emotions, your energy levels, and your productivity are all impacted by how you take care of yourself. You cannot set yourself up to be successful to make larger changes in your life (your career, your relationships, your self-esteem) without supporting yourself first in these fundamental ways.
Take some time today and ask yourself if there’s anything you can be doing each day to take better care of yourself. Your needs are too important to keep setting aside like this.