Tag Archives: sickness

Taking Care of Yourself

Sunday morning I woke up with a sore throat. I had the little headache, the little cough, and the sneezes. My body was coming down with something. So I skipped biking to yoga class, which sounded like too much for my sinuses and my chills. I drank throat soothers tea with tons of honey and I sat on the couch all day.  I thought I was taking care of myself.

What was actually happening was what looked like taking care of myself. I did the things that came to mind if I was just going to skim the top of the list. I didn’t bother really questioning my body for what it needed. I did what I wanted to do. No, let me rephrase that. I did what I thought I deserved.

Yes, folks, here it is. So much of taking care of ourselves is the allotted amount, not the necessary amount. It is like buying organic. I’ll buy organic food as often as I can, but every once in a while I end up with something a tiny bit horrible in my cart because the organic costs $2 more, not just $1 more. Why am I drawing lines in some places and not others?

Right now I’m getting lots of bodywork for back pain, I get weekly or biweekly acupuncture and I’m on a slew of expensive vitamins to recover from grad school. Most people would say that is really taking care of myself. Today, with this fourth day of a sore throat, I’m less certain.

All of that would be enough if I hadn’t put myself through the ringer for the last three years. Truth has it grad school + commuting + planning a wedding = longer than two months of recovery.

Today this really dirty word came into my mind. Pampering. I was in the shower exfoliating months of dead skin off my body and hardened feet and feeling fabulous. That is when it happened, the thought slipped through my mind—you just needed a little pampering today.

It almost ruined my whole shower. For three years I occasionally showered, I occasionally washed my hair and the closest thing to pampering was cutting my fingernails, which is technically an obligation for someone who pushes on people’s abdomens for a living.  I did not pamper myself and I certainly didn’t allow my mind to dream up ways that would make my body feel less chaotic, more appreciated.

That’s what I’m getting at today. Appreciation. This word feels less dirty and a little more aggressive.

Are you appreciating yourself?  Really it is a challenge.

Think of the way we take care of plants. We water them when they start to droop. Think of the way we take care of our cars, we wait until a light comes on. What if we didn’t take care of our bodies, we instead appreciated our bodies every day.

What if we asked our bodies every morning what they wanted from the day and listened? How would that change our little worlds?

When asked, my sore throat wants to neti, it wants to rinse with salt water, it wants to stay better hydrated and eat salty foods. It wants a nap sometime this afternoon and a little fresh mint in my water. I haven’t tried any of those things all week because I didn’t ask. Now I’ve got a treatment plan.

Sick Day(s)

One of my husband’s greatest strengths is how well he gets sick. When he gets sick his body goes to war.  I can almost hear his immune system rising up and fighting from within him. He gets high fevers easily and sweats profusely like the body is not just pushing, but propelling out the germs. He stays home from school and doesn’t leave the bed, sleeping in four to six hour stretches during the day. He lets his mind shut down and his body takes over. It is a sight to be seen.

I, on the other hand, am not very good at being sick. For the last two days I have been home sick contemplating the immune system and how to rest deeply to make the body heal faster. After two days of being in the house and watching an absurd amount of television I have nothing to report, no brilliant lessons learned. Rest is hard.

Last Friday I taught an entire yoga class on the concept of yield. We did some partner work sitting back to back with another yoga student in the class and practicing yielding against each other. Yield by definition is relational. It is not a giving over completely, but a resting against to feel what comes back to meet you. In order to yield to a partner’s back you have to be able to support their yield and give equal yield back. The meeting halfway creates a safe place to rest. That is yield. It is fundamental piece of embodyoga,TM the style yoga that I practice and teach. If we first find the earth and can yield to it, we can begin to push away and find the support of the earth in more challenging postures.

Canceling class and staying in bed all day is not necessarily yielding. The last two days have included more grumbling and fighting of the cold and not much yielding.

So what would yielding look like? What would it feel like? Yielding would be canceling my afternoon appointments right now instead of waiting a few more hours to fail again. I’m not going to be strong enough to treat patients in a few hours. I know that now.  Yielding would be using a gentle soothing voice in my head when I talk to myself and say it is okay to be sick. This morning on this third morning of sinus pain and body aches I need to hear that I’m going to continue to take very good care of myself and will continue to as long as it takes. If I have to be out sick all week, that is okay. My students and patients will understand.

I love how difficult it is to tell if pictures of the sun low in the sky are sunset or sunrise pictures. This is a sunset picture. I’m using it to tell my body that today I am still sick. We took this picture through a dusty, scratched old window and I love the graininess of the view. That is how I feel with my sinuses fully clogged and this lightheadedness that threatens to tip me over every time I stand up. I am not emerging from this illness today. If I take very good care of myself I may or may not feel better tomorrow. I’m not going to be attached to any outcome. Today the sun is setting, the sickness is still in deep. I can be okay with that.

To the rest of you home sick—may you recover quickly and peacefully and remember for the body to falter it must be warring against something very powerful. Have faith in the strength of the body to overcome, it will.