I visited one of my oldest friends at her place in beautiful Southern Utah last year and was amazed that not only did she and her tall spouse live in the small confines of a trailer (long story) but even more so that she could survive without a bathtub. As a former dancer with a well-honed intensity to all my physical pursuits that typically result in some kind of pain the following day, that’s just not acceptable in my idealistic world. I’d even trade my house for the trailer if it meant the difference between having and not having my tub. So naturally, one of the most expensive upgrades I’ve treated myself to over the years is a large tub big enough to submerge my well-seasoned body on a very regular basis. And when I go to that zen place/my bath, when I allow myself to leave the real world behind for at least 30 precious minutes of a day, I’m continually amazed that more people don’t sing the praises of bathtubs. Practically speaking, I’m not even sure my body could function without that monstrosity in my life but by now you’ve guessed I would never go without.
But really this brings up a much more serious issue in my mind that is even larger than my indispensable tub. Here in the US anyway, we seem to be a culture that refuses to calm down. Our ideas around wellness lean so far into the ‘beat yourself up’ realm that it seems obvious to me that there are A LOT of things we don’t want to talk about. And yet stress related illness not only is killing us off at a rapid rate but our ‘health clubs’ promote the idea that you must have sweat drenched clothing when you’ve finished a work-out or you just didn’t kill it like you should have. And not only are we doing a poor job of integrating health and well-being into our crazy lives but we flock to classes with names like Bootcamp and Insanity! Indeed!!
A young friend sent fathers’ day accolades on FaceBook mentioning that he and his dad spent the day before working 40 hours straight setting up an outdoor performance venue- what a legacy to leave your children….. my dad taught me the importance of being a workaholic 😦
They say there are very few activities that effectively calm our parasympathetic nervous systems – yoga, meditation, mindfulness, taking a bath (*wink) – but sages of all sorts agree that the balance between that and the sympathetic nervous system is critical for good health. Ya see where I’m going with this-today’s break neck speed of chaos and conundrums has us wound tighter than a cheap watch and we haven’t enough of these habits to find balance.
Ariana Huffington’s book, the third metric gives me hope that I’m not the only one perplexed by this – AH worked herself into an emotional collapse before realizing that there might be a better approach to life than all work and no play. I heard her interviewed on a sounds true podcast and was gleeful to hear this giant in the business world state she now has nap rooms in her offices so employees can rest when necessary-blew me right out of the water it did!
So what to do??? I often ask my kids when they phone- you know things are really bad when they actually phone you-how are you taking care of yourself these days? Tell me one nice thing you’ve done for yourself today? You might ask yourself those questions and make sure you like your answers because you’re growing older and there’s no backsies in life, or not many anyway.
I come by these small bits of wisdom honestly as it took me years of high cortisol living to realize I too could change. Stress is often a silent killer as in my case. I was smart enough to know I had much to be grateful for but not clever enough to know that stress was winning. Until the migraines started and they weren’t backing down easily. So while there is a lot of stress is our lives we can’t easily change- traffic, climate change, world peace- you can take control of your habits. So make that list of all the things that make you feel pampered, loved, and cherished. Share it with your beloved. Talk about it to your children and wear it proudly. Say no to half the things others expect from you and you have my permission to have at least one rest day a week. I’m pretty sure that was in the Divine plan, right?