Listening to our bodies

The human body is an amazing thing. It will flag up problems that need attention and self repair all but the most serious of issues with a minimum of intervention. Good health and pain free living are too easily taken for granted until we suffer their loss. Most of us will face our daily tasks, chores and entertainments assuming that we can cope with whatever treatment we give our bodies and will recover. Perhaps it is only as we age and the aches and complaints take longer to heal that we realise how much better life can be if we take good care of ourselves.

As another new week begins I will be trying to treat my body better. Last week was a lot of fun with birthdays to celebrate and parties to look forward to but the aftermath of such frivolity and high living hit me yesterday. It would seem that I need my sleep and am not good at coping with the effects of rich food and wine consumed at odd times. My body was telling me that I have not been treating it well and, as it is the only one I will ever have, I intend to listen to it.

There are those in my local friendship group who appear to socialise and party with a regularity that I do not believe I could cope with. When my body tells me to rest and recuperate it does so loudly; I suspect it is attitude as much as age. I am happy to accept the excuse that I need to give myself time to recover as I enjoy a time of solitude and reflection as I go about my daily routine. I am generally content to live repetitively and quietly with just the occasional highlight to look forward to from time to time.

My children are now home from their various school and scout trips and camps. Much as I like to see them enjoying the experiences that travel and adventure offer it felt good to have them all back and safe in their own beds. We felt rather jaded yesterday evening and welcomed the chance of an early night. This morning I awoke feeling ever so much better after a full eight hours sleep – it is quite some time since I have managed that.

Waking my children for school was not so easy. Overtired and physically weary they were not in the best of moods as they headed out to catch their bus. I do hope that they manage to stay calm through their day but suspect that this evening could be trying. They do not always react well to the effects of excessive activity and poor sleep. It doesn’t help that they will also have had to cope with an unusual diet. The fuel that we give to our bodies has a significant effect on how well we operate. The young may be more capable of a quick recovery from such treatment than their elders but they still require recovery time – a fact that they do not always seem to appreciate.

Having had one of the laziest days ever yesterday, which probably helped my mood if not the state of my house, today will be busy for me. As well as the damp and muddy clothing that the children presented to me on their return I have a sodden tent opened out on the floor of our family room to dry. There is a lot of sorting out for me to tackle but this is fine. It would seem that a quiet and ordinary life suits me better than high excitement. As the weather has returned to the cold and damp of winter, even if we are now well through March, I will not be tempted to venture far. A little hibernation this week will do me good.

Listening to our bodies and responding appropriately to physical needs requires awareness but is generally obvious and straightforward. Listening to our minds and responding appropriately to our mental health requirements can be more challenging. Accepting myself for what I am and avoiding attempts to follow a more conventional lifestyle with it’s social highlights and large group get togethers can be hard, but only because I am allowing myself to think that I should be having the sort of fun that others appear to enjoy. I have no wish to shun society but am much more comfortable meeting up with one person or a small group on an occasional basis. I need to allow myself to live a life that suits me.

What worked well last week was my night away with my husband. How fortunate I am that the person whose company I enjoy the most lives with me. A night out with him, but not too late a one, can be a social highlight that I will truly enjoy. With my friends I think I am best sticking to a walk or a coffee. Neither of these is likely to result in my body feeling as though it has been brutalised as it did yesterday. I am such a party lightweight.

For now I have much to do as I face this new week. A gentle approach to the tasks to be completed along with sparse and simple food will soon have me feeling healthy again. My body is telling me to be mindful of my needs and, on this occasion at least, I am going to do as I am told.



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