An A-Z for your life – Body

BodyOur bodies are so important to the pleasure we get out of life yet we often take them for granted.  It is so important that we look after our body and have a good relationship with it.  Many of us try to ignore the reality of being in a human body with all its associated miracles and frailties.

So many people take better care of their possessions than their bodies yet bodies are not replaceable.  This is not about beauty or expensive treatments but about the simple everyday task of looking after the container that carries us through the world.  It is about a healthy diet, exercise, relaxation and sleep.  Although there have been lots of fads in this area the core messages remain the same.  We know we need vegetables and fruits (in a range of colours); regular exercise and a good night’s sleep everyday.  We also need to drink plenty of water to keep us hydrated.  It was some years ago when I realized that I was not drinking enough water and the effect that would have on my body.  I am still not very good at this but it has improved.

Thankfully I like other healthy drinks such as herbal teas.  It is not about being perfect but minimizing the bad stuff we do to our bodies and maximizing the good stuff.  Like most things balance is also important and health is more about sensible moderation than extremes.  Of course there may be times when we struggle to make healthy choices but that does not mean we should give up or feel guilty but just use our awareness to help us to do our best.  It’s never useful to think in terms of all or nothing, every bit counts.

We know that smoking is bad for us and alcohol is best consumed in moderation. There are many other substances that can cause varying degrees of harm to our bodies and it is up to us what role these have in our lives.  A lot is said about the addictive qualities of harmful substances but I think some healthy foods can be addictive too.  I love healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits and fish.  The responsibility is back to you and the habits that you form.

Our bodies are very sophisticated.  They can tolerate much neglect in our teens and twenties but if this continues then our bodies find ways of telling us that they are not happy (e.g. headaches, backaches).  From eyes to teeth we need to have regular check-ups to know what is going on in our bodies and what we should be doing to acquire or maintain good health.  As well as physical health our bodies also link in to our mental health and sense of wellbeing.  If we are in physical discomfort then it is challenging for us to feel upbeat about life.  We can take in foods that that affect our bodies in different ways: lifting our mood (chocolate), getting rid of bad stuff (antioxidants) and introducing good stuff (omega oils from oily fish and various seeds) for example.

You may need to learn to love the body you have been given and not compare it to others.  Sometimes it can be good to think of what your body can do (e.g. hike, run, swim, give birth) rather than how it looks.  You may have more serious body issues that are linked with mental health concerns and I would suggest you seek help for this.  Eating disorders can be overcome. Whatever the case our bodies are key to our physical and, to some extent, mental health and we need to be taking notice of how they are functioning and what impact our attention or neglect is having.

How do you feel about your body and how you treat it?  Would you say that you value the body you have been given or are you more likely to be found neglecting or criticising it?   Do you expose your body to harm?  What might be your first step to looking after your body?