please take good care of yourself

Today we ask that you take good care of yourselves.

It is very hard for people to do this.

People are taught that taking good care of yourself is somehow lazy, or selfish.

Many believe that they must always put the needs of others ahead of their own.  Parents often believe this.  Not doing so is considered selfish and immoral.

Even people who are not invested in taking care of others, who may even appear to be very egotistical, often do not take good care of themselves at all.  People are taught that to get ahead in a dog-eat-dog world, you must always be working yourself to the point of exhaustion.  To keep going, you consume caffeine and stimulants.  Any other way of conducting yourself is considered lazy.

These beliefs are the direct cause of the vast majority of diseases that people in “first world” countries experience.

No wonder your health care systems are overtaxed.  No one knows how to take care of themselves, so countless people wind up with serious illnesses.

If you do not take good care of a plant, if you do not water it and give it good soil and the right amount of sunlight, it gets sick.  It withers.

If you do not take good care of your body and mind, you get sick.  You wither.

What does it mean to take good care of yourself?  What is the “water, good soil, and sunlight” for humans?

You absolutely must get adequate rest and sleep.  For most humans, this means eight hours at night.  If this is not possible, then daytime naps become a necessity; or else “catch-up” nights in which you get even more than eight hours.

Many protest that this simply is impossible.  But for many people, it would be quite possible if they got into the habit of winding down and going to sleep much earlier at night.  This would mean less exposure to TV or the internet at night, and not working before bedtime.  It means that if you know you must absolutely get up at 6 in the morning, that you start winding down and readying for bed by 9:30 at night.

Taking good care of yourself means taking real days off, and giving yourself “sabbaths” in which you truly and completely step away from work and unwind.

It means eating a healthy diet.  Most of you at this point have a good idea of what that means.  For many of you, simply taking the step of cutting out all sugary, high-glycemic index foods would instantly and immensely benefit your health.  

It means taking good care of your body with regular, daily exercise.  This does not need to be self-punishing in any way.  Going for daily walks is sufficient.  Taking a regular yoga class is sufficient.  You must keep the body moving if it is to stay healthy.  You cannot expect your body to be able to properly regulate itself if you sit in a chair all day.

Establishing a simple meditation practice of even ten minutes a day is greatly calming and nourishing for the body and mind.  It restores and creates mental health.

If people simply did the following things…

  • Watched less TV/spent less time on the internet and slept more/took more naps
  • Gave themselves real rest days, or “sabbaths”
  • Cut sugary, high-glycemic foods out of their diet
  • Got regular, daily exercise
  • Meditated ten minutes a day

… then you would perceive a drastic reduction in physical and mental illness.

What’s more, taking good care of yourself makes you a better caretaker of others.  There is nothing noble about martyrdom.  Parents who wear themselves out and get physically and mentally ill sacrificing for their children are truly not helping anyone.   

Nor is there anything noble about working yourself to sickness and exhaustion in pursuit of your ambitions and goals.  If you achieve your goal at the price of your physical and mental health, this is a poor victory, in the end.

If people understood this, you would dwell in a much saner, healthier, more peaceful world.