I celebrated Canada 150 in Ottawa this summer with one of my best friends, Emilia. On Canada Day we were wandering around downtown, desperately looking for a place to eat. Eventually, after an incredibly long search, we found a cute little pizza place with a precious courtyard that didn’t charge insane Canada Day prices. It was perfection.
When we sat down, completely relived to know food would be coming to our table any minute, I turned to her and said “You know sometimes when I’m really hungry I get extra emotional”. She laughed and said “OH I know. It’s my job to keep you fed so you don’t get like that.” I genuinely did almost tear up when the pizza came because it was 2 pm and we hadn’t had lunch yet and I was just overwhelmed with being so happy to be about to eat.
Overwhelmed is a key term in that sentence that I’m going to dive into because the moral of this week’s post is that it’s important to take care of your body and read the signals that you’re in need of a little TLC.
Connecting Emotional and Physical Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I think when discussing wellness it’s important to think about how nurturing ourselves physically improves our emotional wellbeing.
We don’t always give enough credit to the fact that managing our emotions or processing stress sometimes requires lots of energy. For myself, if I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed I ask:
- Did I get enough sleep the past few nights?
- Have I been eating well lately?
- Have I been drinking too much coffee? (Sometimes one cup a day is still too much for me – thank goodness for decaf)
- What’s going on in my life to make me feel this way?
When we are feeling physically burnt out we have a harder time managing stress and other emotions. We don’t function at our highest levels or bring our best selves to our work, school, or relationships. Being in a place of exhaustion, hunger, burnout, or stress can make us more irritable and cause an increase in conflicts in our relationships – hanger is so real guys.
As much as it is funny to joke about crying when I’m hungry I think it really is important to take care of yourself and to pay attention to signs that you need to put more effort into taking care of yourself so you can function at your best.
We should be mindful of taking care of ourselves and remember that refuelling your physical and emotional energy is super important. This article talks about the importance of sleep and what impacts it can have on you.
Sometimes it is seen as a badge of honour to be tried, to be so hard-working that you’re exhausted, chugging coffee to keep going. Do you remember when you were a baby (of course not but just play along), and you got so over tired or hungry you would cry? And your parents we responsible for keeping you fed and well rested? Well if you’re reading this you’re probably a grown up and its your responsibility to care for yourself now.
An article from Everyday Health states that “Total health depends on a healthy mind and body. Take time to nurture both.” and encouraged readers that the best way to care for your overall emotional and physical wellbeing including :
- “Eat right. A healthy, regular diet is good for the body and mind.
- Go to bed on time. Losing sleep is hard on your heart, may increase weight, and definitely cranks up the crankiness meter.
- Go out and play. Taking time out for relaxation and socializing is good for your emotional health and your physical health.
- Exercise. Exercise is proven to improve your mood and has comprehensive benefits for your physical health.”
I could list article after article here for you to get the point across, like this one that says “To have good emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body by having a regular routine for eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and exercising” or this article which states that “good physical health supports good mental health.” There are so many resources I could keep going, but I think you get it, not taking care of your physical needs has a negative impact on you including your ability to manage your emotions.
Laugh & Sleep
The Irish proverb “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything” feels pretty spot on and it is advice I really live by. I tend to get over tired and some days I just get to a point where I need to sleep. And we all know laugher, especially shared with friends, is the best medicine. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, maybe you’re so hungry you’re in tears – focus on the things you can do to make it better.
For the sake of full disclosure, I really need to take this advice. As you may have assumed from the anecdote I opened with, I cannot claim that I have perfected the whole “always being well fed and well rested” thing. There have been multiple days already this week (and it’s only Wednesday!) that I had too much coffee, not enough sleep, or I skipped a meal because I was running late for work.
I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to keep a normal sleep schedule or resist the urge to drink coffee when you know it’ll keep you up and fuel your stress. But what I want to emphasize this week is that it’s not about achieving perfect health, it’s about practicing self-awareness and recognizing that the way you care for your body has a direct connection with how you feel and are able to function.
Life is busy, unpredictable and we will not always be well rested, but we can strive to take the best care of our selves. Making sure you’re taking care of yourself means you will be able to handle life the best you can. You’ll function at a high level, be able to manage stress, and avoid crying in pizzeria courtyards. If you want to bring your best self to work, relationships, vacations, what have you – you’ve got to take care.
P.S. Thank you Em, for being a great friend, keeping me fed, and (almost always) preventing me from getting so hungry I cry.