We aren’t meant to live the way most of us do. I don’t mean in the days of coronavirus shutdowns. I mean in general. For most of us, our lifestyles conflict with our nature.
We aren’t meant to perform sedentary work, only to return home and sit all night. We aren’t meant to consume hours of passive entertainment. We aren’t meant to replace water and real food with the sugar-based drinks and processed crap that makes up too large a part of too many diets.
We aren’t meant to stay indoors. We aren’t meant to sacrifice everything to further corporate agendas and fatten corporate coffers. We aren’t meant to grow old before our time. We aren’t meant to live online (the irony of writing that to post online does not escape).
Our health and our bodies would be better if we lived our lives differently. Some people do a good job. Some people eat well, drink enough water, get plenty of fresh air and exercise, and treat their bodies like the temples they are. I admire them. I wish I was more like them. Most of the time. Even if their Instagram lives annoy me a little.
Because sometimes, the admonishments to take care of ourselves are annoying. One more thing on a list that seems to stretch into infinity. One more thing to add to a burden that is already too much.
There is a possibility, however, that we prioritize the wrong things.
We don’t have to care for ourselves, of course. The choice to eat poorly, exercise infrequently, and eschew water, fresh air, screening check-ups, and self-care is an option. No one can make us do these things.
But if we don’t take care of our toys, we won’t have them to play with in the future. And much as I wish it were otherwise, we’ve yet to evolve scientifically to a point where we’re able to swap our used-up bodies for new and improved ones.
It’s probably a good idea to make this one last.
Easy tips and changes to improve your health and take better care of your body:
1. Water, water, water. Did I mention water? Drink it. Drink it often. Drink it instead of almost anything else. It’s the bomb. It hydrates the skin so you look less wrinkled. It helps you avoid water retention, so you look less puffy. On a less superficial level, it helps with your biological processes. Don’t worry about having to go to the bathroom every fifteen minutes. Your body gets used to the increased supply. Besides, it’s a good excuse to practice Kegels.
2. Get fresh air. Get outside. It’s relaxing, it improves the blood pressure and heart rate, it cleans the lungs, and it strengthens the immune system. Even if it’s simply sitting on the deck with a mug of tea, get out there. Get real light and unfiltered air every day. Take in nature while you’re doing it. Let it relax you. Let it lift your soul. Watch the birds. Feed a duck. Be outside and away from the ball and chain that comes with Android or iOS.
3. Get enough sleep. Too little sleep is the cause of a great many ills. If you’re well-rested, you’re immune system functions better. You think better and perform better. You get along with other people. It even helps you stay at a healthy weight.
4. Unplug from screen time. This includes e-books and podcasts. Unplug from it all. Feel your stress level drop. Feel your respiration rate slow.
5. Connect. Phone a friend. Phone a family member. Visit someone. Interact with a real human being and have a conversation. Ask about their lives and share things about yours. Talk about your hopes. Talk about your troubles. “A burden shared is a burden halved.”
6. Exercise. Move your body. It’s what it was made to do. Don’t forget to stretch. It makes you feel good and keeps those very necessary joints loose and lubricated. It also makes your digestive system work better. A happy intestine is a happy life.
(The good thing about this list is many of the things can be combined. For instance, going for a walk with a bottle of water in the forest ticks a whole bunch of boxes. One and done. I like efficiency.)
7. Eat real food. Eat less salt. Eat less sugar. Shop on the outside aisles. The processed crap is sold in the interior ones.
8. Meditate. The health benefits are numerous and include lower stress levels and better baseline health numbers such as pulse and blood pressure.
9. Listen to music. It has charms that soothe the savage breast.
10. Be nice to yourself. Like yourself. We take better care of things we’re fond of.
11. Visit the necessary medical professionals. Practice prophylactic healthcare. Brush your teeth regularly and get dental check-ups. Get eye exams. Get physicals.