I rarely get sick any more, so I was surprised to find myself with a cold this past weekend. The thing was, my body had been sending me clues all week that it was about to get sick. Unfortunately, I ignored those signs. Could I have prevented getting sick altogether? Or at least shortened the cold? Possibly, but you never know. Still, it is a good reminder that our bodies DO tell us what they need. And it pays to listen and deliver on those needs.
Last week was a bit crazy. My phone died, which was stressful. I had some extra commitments throughout the week. And it was also my birthday. So naturally, that meant when I wasn’t working, I was packing my days with fun activities. There were long hikes, time out by the lake, extra dinners out at restaurants, and a few more sweets.
I noticed, but ignored, the fact that I was feeling worn out. The alarm would go off in the morning, and I would groan, feeling like I needed more sleep. Throughout the day, I still felt tired and heavy, as though everything felt like an uphill climb. But, I couldn’t seem to prioritize rest. I didn’t try to get to bed earlier, fit in a nap, or say no to extra commitments. Also, I was craving spinach and broccoli. I remember wondering why I was wanting those foods so badly, and then eating something else. I broke one of my best food rules… if you crave a vegetable or fruit, go get it and eat it asap, because your body needs the vitamins and minerals that particular food provides! This rule does not apply to other cravings, however (sorry sweet tooth, I’m looking at you!)
Anyway, there were two pretty clear messages my body was sending me. I needed rest. And I needed some extra nutrition. I ignored the messages. The result? Sneezing, stuffed up nose, lost taste buds, sinus headache, and a nasty cough. Ugh.
Sometimes it is hard to listen to your body. You think you just can’t take a step back. You’re on deadline, have an important meeting, or don’t want to let someone down. But the truth is that our bodies cannot heal themselves if we don’t slow down. Coming from corporate America, I know all about the “powering through” mindset. When you don’t take a sick day because you MUST do this project, or attend this meeting, and finish this report. Powering through while sick will ensure only one or two outcomes - you won’t get better as fast as you could have, and you may get everyone else around you sick!If we are fighting off an illness, we need sleep. We need more restful activities vs. hustle and bustle. We need nutrient-rich food and lots of fluids. By slowing down when we first notice that our bodies are working harder, we can let them do what they are supposed to do - fight off illness, and bounce back a lot quicker.
We can’t go back in time, but we can take care of ourselves now. So once I was sick, I prioritized rest, swapped walks for challenging gym workouts, prepared healthy meals with lots of veggies, and drank a lot of tea and water to help flush out all the toxins. I feel much better!
This cold and flu season, do yourself a favor and listen to your body more often. Rest when you notice you’re starting to feel run down, eat fruits and veggies if your body is demanding them, and drink lots of fluids. You may find yourself feeling better sooner than later.