Falling behind on basic self-care, such as eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and staying hydrated, can lead to what Dhiren Patel, Ayurvedic MD calls, “The Cumulative Effect.” You won’t necessarily feel the effects of one off-night of sleep, a serving of your favorite probably-shouldn’t-eat-that food, or a couple of days off from exercise, but in combination you might notice a reaction. The body is most likely to speak up when these minor infractions become the rule rather than the exception in your routine. That’s when you may find yourself dealing with The Cumulative Effect.
Stress is often an underlying factor
Hopefully you’ve just been out having fun too many nights in a row, but often stress isn’t anything we choose. When a loved one needs extra care or attention, for example, or the car breaks down, we may have to set routine priorities aside to deal with immediate concerns. Hopefully, once again, the situation is remedied easily, but sometimes life presents longer lasting challenges that require adjustments. That’s when falling behind in self-care essentials is most common, and most likely to leave you feeling out of sorts.
Last year I went through a challenging time as my mom made her way toward the great transition. She passed on as the year closed. I’m grateful for the time I could be with her, and grateful I was able to take care of myself enough too… well, almost. Life was definitely upside down, and my body let me know clearly, that to maintain my stamina, I had to take care of myself. Nothing perfect mind you. Here are a few things I did to take care, pretty consistently…
- I took long walks, in nature whenever possible. These quiet strolls were my saving grace.
- I cooked a lot of warm comforting pots of chicken soup, full of vegetables of course; ordered Chinese take-out for more meals full of vegetables; and made frequent trips to my favorite organic markets for fresh fruits, vegetables, and already prepared meals.
- I carried my ocean blue PBA-free water bottle, and my tall travel teacup, with me everywhere.
- As for sleep… I’m still catching up with that!
It’s a process. Everything we do and go through in life, is a process.
If you haven’t been feeling your best, and basic self-care has taken a back seat to other priorities in your life, it’s understandable. Just notice, be aware of the cumulative effect, and do the best you can.
Day by day, our choices make a difference.