Feed the body, not the beast.
Self-care is our second step in transitioning powerfully from one life season into the next.
As we move from one home to another, sometimes across states, countries, sometimes even continents, we leave behind a world that in most cases we know well enough to walk it in the dark of night. However, as we leave our familiar neighborhood, we leave the fragrance of the air and the flavor of the water we are used to. As we explore and discover our new place, we have to learn new landmarks and points of orientation.
Where we used to be able to drive our kids to school on automatic pilot, we now are struggling with GPS and maps apps, the side of the road we are supposed to be on, and new traffic signs and parking regulations. Where we knew the fastest way to our favorite spot for organic fruits and vegetables, we now are grateful to find any store that sells fresh produce.
It takes time to figure things out, and that’s okay. In the meantime, feed your body and soul, because this process is exhausting, it is a huge work-out for body and soul, mind and spirit.
Pizza and pasta are fantastic comfort food choices, all along with bread and a certain umlaut-ladden ice cream – and I realized a few years ago that any of those foods will exhaust my digestive system and put me right to sleep, standing up if needs be. Instead of feeding my body, I was feeding beasts and gremlins: irritability, depression, discomfort, sluggishness.
So today, I make sure to have a bag of apples, other affordable seasonal fruits and veggies, to munch on, before I cave and eat sedative Italian foods. I feel more energized and get a lot more done on fruits, vegetables, and light proteins during the day, and leave the carbs, however complex, for the less productivity-oriented hours of my day, if at all. I learned this by trial and error, testing food combinations over the years, and found out what works for me.
Everyone’s body is different, and you will know what gives you energy, what makes you feel good. I personally believe in eating and drinking clean, as much as that is possible, and it has given me decent health over the years. Try different food groups and observe how you feel – take your time, listen to your cravings, and opt for fresh foods that contain only minimal amounts of sugar.
Drinking clean water and moving around in fresh air also worked wonders for my body, mind, and spirit. I try to get in at least a half hour walk each day – I am not okay if I don’t walk or hike three days in a row. Stretching, walking, climbing, riding your bike or rowing your boat – any plein air exercise will energize you, and like my friend Nelta says, “everything is better after a walk”.
Sleep might not come easy these days. Our minds are working overtime and will start churning the minute we close our eyes. You might know that this is normal, and part of the process. Give yourself permission to be sleepless. Know that your body will get to a point where it will insist, and you will have deep, restorative sleep again. Nap often, even during a washroom break at work. Hold your keys in your hand… they will drop when you nod off, and you will be surprised at how refreshed you feel just from those few minutes of total relaxation.
When I moved from an excellent health care system in Germany to Alaska, I felt lost, and very un-cared for initially. What I learned over time, however, was that the way health care was practiced in Alaska forced me to take charge and become responsible for my own well-being, instead of waiting until something hurts and then seeing the doctor to fix it. I started to focus a lot more on learning about nutrient dense foods. I felt that getting my vitamins and minerals from food instead of pills made a lot more sense. I also discovered community health fairs as a source of education and support. See if Health Fairs are offered in your new area, so you can get to know practitioners and health care providers. Don’t be shy – ask questions, ask for recommendations; use online resources to educate yourself, but always keep in mind that even health pros will have different opinions. In the end, listen to your heart, your intuition, your body – it will guide you to the right person and the right options for you.
Self-care is not limited to the body of course. Our spirit, our mind, our heart, our soul want to be nourished smartly, and generously.
My mind thrives on conversation – serious, silly, complex, light – connection with others fulfills me both in heart and mind. At the same time, I recharge in silence, best in places that have trees, rocks, and water. The territorial war songs of birds tell me stories of ancient times, and tickle my creativity.
Good conversation and trusted friends are my mind energizers. Silence and solitude are my heart power lines.
Take a moment and reflect about yours. Where do you feel you can exhale? What is a place that makes you smile? Who is a good person to run a crazy idea by? Who is that person you can call to vent? Who among your friends always has a silly story to tell? In whose presence do you automatically relax?
People and places infuse us with energy, or take it away. Gentle tunes, good reads, deep drum beats and the sound of waves, blue skies and cloud formations, sunrise and spring blossoms can empower and delight us. This week, explore your sources of strength and joy – people, places, sights, and sounds.
Let me know what you find!