Where Logic Meets Love

Take Care of Yourself: It's Best for Everyone

Thursday, July 7, 2011

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Take Care of Yourself: It's Best for Everyone | Faith Permeating Life
This week on my favorite marriage podcast, Tony mentioned a recent moment when he'd lost his temper with their son. His explanation for what had caused him to snap was, of all things, about the weather: "I was hot, he was hot..."

It immediately reminded me of this post from The Happiness Project blog, in which Gretchen talks about how much happier she is when she "treats [herself] like a toddler." The idea is that when you travel with a toddler, you have to plan ahead and make sure your kid is comfortable, well-rested, well-fed, etc., or you're going to have a miserable situation on your hands. So if you want to make yourself happy, why not plan along the same lines?

A while back, I determined something about myself. If I am
  • Too hot
  • Too cold
  • In pain/uncomfortable
  • Tired
  • Or hungry
I can deal with it. But if I am two of these things at one time, I will get incredibly cranky incredibly easily. And if I am hot, tired, hungry, and I have a headache? Oh boy... watch out.

One of the primary objections to a "happiness project" is that it's selfish. It's all about you and your own personal happiness. But the truth is, for me to be the best wife/friend/daughter/employee/Christian I can be, I need to remove as many barriers as possible.

For example:

I have been doing pretty well taking care of myself since I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia, but I utterly failed yesterday. I knew my boss and I were going to have a lunch/brainstorming session outside the office to work on our department's strategic plan, and so I said to myself, "Oh yay, I don't need to pack my lunch in the morning because I'm going out for lunch!" It did not cross my mind that part of my "lunch" is an assortment of snacks I eat throughout the day to keep my blood sugar stabilized. Whoops.

Fast-forward to yesterday evening and I was so weak and shaky I could barely drive myself home. I crawled up the stairs and collapsed in our living room. I did finally manage to get myself some Triscuits and then feed the rats, but I didn't get the mail or clean up the dining room table or play with the rats like I should when I get home. I was utterly useless until Mike got home and made me some dinner. Not a good wife. Not even a good roommate.

Working to make sure I'm happy and healthy is not a selfish goal! Whether I'm taking care of myself has real consequences for the people around me, even at the most basic level of regulating my body temperature and being fed and rested. How many of us, like Tony, have lost our temper because we were cranky about something really fundamental within our body?

One of my happiness commandments is "prioritize right." Making sure I'm comfortable and functioning at my highest level has been a goal of mine since starting my happiness project. I have a bad habit, if I'm working intently on something, that I will sit in an uncomfortable position or put off going to the bathroom or eating food for way too long. It's incredibly stupid and I don't know why I do it. This year I've tried harder to pay attention to those bodily signals. Sometimes when I'm at home I'll even talk out loud to get myself to act:

"Jessica. You are sitting in an uncomfortable position. Stop what you're doing and reposition yourself."

"Jessica. It's 1pm. Shut your laptop and go make yourself some lunch."

It might sound stupid to talk to myself like that, but it's important for everyone that I take care of myself. I mean, if I'm exhausted, hungry, and I've got a cramp in my leg, do you think I'm going to feel like having sex with my husband? Probably not.

Take the time to take care of yourself! It's not selfish to focus on your own needs if it helps you to be a better partner and friend.

How do you take care of yourself? Do you struggle with it like I do?


  1. YES x 100. It's true. It's like the old oxygen mask on the airplane saying (and what I've been attempting to do, as posted over on my blog).

    You're no good to anyone if you're not good to you first. Everyone forgets this, but it's so elementary. Why can't we remember? The world may never know...

    Do you keep snacks in your office, by chance? And in your car? If you don't already, you might want to think about doing so. I apologize if that sounds bossy or mom-like. I've been in your situation SO MANY TIMES and it's so icky. I've also learned the hard way. Of course now that it's summer, I have to switch up my car snacks since things can melt or get gross. I think it'll be plain peanuts or other nuts in a baggie or small plastic container.

    And yes, when I'm tired/have a headache/stressed/in pain/sick/whatever, I'm NOT pleasant to be around, and that leads to snapping. Oddly enough...the past 3 weeks, C & I have been getting along super well...and also...I've been working out, eating better, etc. Coincidence?? I think so. :-)

  2. @Rabbit
    You are totally right that I should be keeping snacks at work. The trick, like you said, is finding stuff that isn't perishable and won't melt or otherwise get ruined quickly, as I usually eat fresh stuff. I do bring Wheat Thins in my lunch, so maybe I should just get an extra box to keep at work in case I don't have lunch with me one day. I'll have to think about what else would be good.

    I did remember you had posted something similar! I think one reason it's so hard is because the moment of the decision and the moment of the consequences are so often far apart, like not bringing my snacks and then being weak hours later, or opting to stay up late because I'm not that tired and then being exhausted in the morning. So it's not just taking care of yourself, it's taking care of your future self (thus the planning-for-a-toddler analogy). And also when I'm really involved in something interesting, it's hard to make myself take a break for boring things like eating and peeing :)

  3. OK I started a reply to you, but it got really long. Then I decided to turn it into a general post over on my blog. Here it is!


  4. I love The Happiness Project; how did I miss the "treat yourself like a toddler" advice? Sooo well put!

    And the hypoglycemia? I'm shocked, because that is me, and I don't know anyone else who has issues with it (like me) that aren't related to larger health problems. As long as I don't eat many carbs (and I'm talking eat the green beans, skip the potatoes) I feel great. I did not feel so great after I ate Halloween candy last week. Go figure!

  5. @Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy
    I love Gretchen's insights because she puts fundamental truths so succinctly! The toddler advice is one I remind myself of often.

    Interesting about the hypoglycemia; I also only knew one person with it before I was diagnosed, and she has other health issues. Since getting diagnosed, though, I've learned that several other people I know have it as well. After 8 months of mono, I'm just grateful this is an issue I actually have control over!


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