Protect Your Health- Treat Your Body Like Your Favorite Car
Why can’t we take as good care of our bodies as we do of our cars? If we “turn the radio off” and listen to the “rattles” in our body, most all the information we need to be healthier and pain free is there.
I always like to start my computer ergonomics class with the car and other analogies, which goes like this:
How many of you here today currently own your most favorite car you ever had? Or have you already owned your most favorite car in the past?
Do you take this car in for routine scheduled maintenance? Do you change the oil on schedule? Do you get the tires rotated and balanced routinely?
Ever put the wrong fuel in this car on purpose? That would be insanity!
Do you take pride in taking great care of the car?
I currently own my most favorite car I ever had. I’ve had her since 1997. I put in better fuel than I have to. I go in for routine maintenance every 10,000 miles. I get her professionally detailed once or twice a year. I still park at the back of the parking lot, in an end spot, to minimize door bangs.
Just like maintaining a car, we need to put effort into health maintenance. It takes a lot to maintain a body!
Pride in All We Do
What about a house? How many of you own your own home? Do you take pride in taking care of your home? Every house is a money pit, am I right?
Do you take pride in taking good care of your family? Your co-workers? Your boss, even if he or she does not deserve it?
We take pride in taking care of our things, and the people around us. Sadly we are teaching our children and our junior co-workers that, when you get older, when you get to my station in life, take care of everyone and everything around you, but you do not have time to take care of yourself.
Turn the Radio Down and Listen for the Rattles
What happens when you hear a rattle in your most favorite car you ever had?
You turn the radio off. If someone is riding with you, you shhh them. You may even roll the window down. Listen! Do you hear that? Where is that coming from? You may even have your mechanic on speed dial. I know my mechanic’s wife and girls, and the doxies.
But what happens when we hear a rattle in our body? We turn the radio up!
How many times have patients said to me, “When I turned 40, I just fell apart overnight!” This meaning, they had a cascade of aches and pains, and maybe a few chronic health diagnoses that all seemed to happen in a very short period of time.
But here’s a newsflash: No one falls apart overnight. We just reach a point where we can’t turn the radio any louder. Now you hear the rattles in the old car.
What is Your Body Telling You?
So what are you going to do about it?
Turn the radio down, and listen for your rattles. If you think you fell apart overnight, you have rattles. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Your body is trying so hard to communicate with you! Don’t make your body have to yell again. You may be pleasantly surprised at the practical things your body has to tell you.
You have to be of the right mindset to listen to your body though. Here are a few stark realities: It doesn’t matter what you used to be able to do. I used to be younger, thinner, and more beautiful. How is that valid now, to the current “conversation”? Here’s a very important reality: The less and less young you get, the less and less you can continue to abuse your body and your brain in the manner to which you’ve become accustomed, and still get by with it.
Time to start letting go of some of those crazy obsessive things you do. Learn to accept that hired lawn services won’t do it like you would do it. Know that it’s really pretty crazy to mop your kitchen every day. Is the world really going to stop turning if the car gets washed every 2 weeks instead of weekly?
Don't Keep Overdoing It
You can hold on to what you used to do. You can keep trying to turn the radio up. You can try to continue denying that you are getting less and less young. You can resent that there are aches and pains in your body, and try to continue ignoring them.
Or you can try to open the dialogue with your body. Turn down the radio. What do you hear? Lovingly do your routine maintenance. You can buy a new car. You can buy a new house. There are no trade-ins on a new body.
Do you wake up with pain?
Do you already know when you do certain activities, you will pay for it later? Duh.
Don’t do all of your Spring cleaning in 2 days. There’s not really a deadline.
Don’t re-landscape the entire yard in one weekend.
Do you really have to use the edger and the weed eater every time you mow?
Do you have to crochet for 8 hours a day?
Do you get enough sleep?
Do you take micro breaks throughout the day when you are working?
Do you ice your wrist, or shoulder or knee when you overdo it?
A Little Prevention...
Do you stretch before and after strenuous activity?
Do you take it easy with activity for a day or two after you overdo it?
Do you have coping strategies that you regularly use for coping with stress?
Do you monitor your blood pressure?
Do you have a physical every 1-2 years?
Do you have a dental exam every 1-2 years? Do you have your teeth cleaned once or twice a year?
Do you have regular mammograms, pap smears, or prostate exams?
Do you know when you should have your first colonoscopy?
Do you know when you should have a scan for osteoporosis?
Did you know it’s okay to say to your provider that it’s been a long time since you’ve had routine blood work and you’d like to rectify that?
Maybe you can park your car at the back of the parking lot and walk to the store or to work, but maybe you shouldn’t take the stairs anymore if your hips and knees don’t like that.
Like talking to plants, talk to your body. You love this body don’t you? Tell your body you love and respect it. Do whatever is within your power to make your body harmonious.
SO please, consider what I’ve said. Start turning the radio down. Listen to your body. Lovingly do your health maintenance.