Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I used to be one of those people who says things like, “Oh, I only get about five hours of sleep a night. That’s all I need.”
Or, “I just don’t have the luxury of going to the gym. I’m way too busy.”
But over the last few years, I’ve realized that optimum performance in life and work suffers if we don’t tend to our physical health. This includes getting enough sleep and exercise. Our bodies were created with certain needs, and we can’t function our best if those needs aren’t met.
An Exercise in Humility
I wonder if these needs serve, in part, to keep us humble. They remind us that we’re human and limited. By thinking I could circumvent the natural requirements of my physical body, I was being arrogant. I acted like I was somehow special, exempt from normal physical limitations.
Certain religious traditions have a long history of denying the body’s needs as a way of life and a path to God. I’m not arguing with that. I rarely hear anyone claiming not to need sleep or exercise because they’re trying to become more spiritually enlightened. It’s because they’re so busy, have so much work to do, have goals and dreams that simply can’t be fit into the normal day. They’re sacrificing for a higher purpose.
I get that—it’s what I used to say. And I think it’s okay for limited periods of time to allow yourself to go without some of the necessities.
Are We Above It?
It’s well-known that sleep and exercise are necessary for us to function at our peak. Yet many of us don’t get enough of either. Do we really think we’re above the natural limitations of our bodies? Are we kidding ourselves, thinking we’re functioning optimally, when we could be doing better if we were healthier?
And why does our culture seem to put so much pressure on us to accomplish so much in our days, our weeks, our years?
I’ve been pondering all of this as I’ve tried to take better care of myself—sort of an experiment in cultivating humility by sleeping more and exercising daily. It forces me to admit I can’t “do it all”—I am human, and limited, and therefore I have to make choices. All of this is somehow helping me feel more peaceful and whole—even while lamenting that I don’t have enough hours in the day.
What about you? How are you taking care of yourself these days? Have you ever thought about the relationship between a humble attitude and recognizing the need to take care of yourself?
Image copyright: fascinadora / 123RF Stock Photo