I burned out my internal thermostat when I was a kid.
Mom and Dad were at work, and since it was summer vacation, I was home alone. I hopped on my trusty Schwinn and took a mid-morning ride down the road to the bridge just east of our house. Going to the bridge is easy peasy, the ride back…not so much because it’s literally up hill the whole way.
Did I mention it was summer vacation? Well…it was the dog days of summer, and I got hot.
And not just a little hot.
Fall off your bike, collapse on the cool, concrete basement floor for an hour, then crawl to the refrigerator for a drink of water—hot.
Of course I didn’t tell my parents, because I knew I’d never hear the end of it (so Shhhh! don’t you tell them either), but ever since then I’ve had to be careful in the heat.
Over the years I’ve developed a checklist of physical things to watch for—like am I hydrated and sweating? How long have I been outside? Am I in the shade or the sunshine? Do I have on sunglasses and a cap? Stopping to cool off or rest on a shady rock isn’t always a lot of fun, but I know from experience that it’s way better than the collapse on the floor scenario.
I’ve also learned to notice how I feel physically — not just in the heat of summer, but any time at all. It’s an important part of self-care.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I hungry?
- Have I been looking at a screen for 20 minutes?
- Have I been sitting for more than 20-25 minutes?
- Do I have a headache?
- Am I thirsty?
- Do I need to go to the bathroom?
If you answer yes to any of these question, then the time to take action is right now.
Hungry? Then get something to eat. Staring at a screen? Stop and use 20-20-20 Rule. Headache? Take some ibuprofen…and see if you’re thirsty, since headaches can also be a symptom of dehydration. Gotta go to the bathroom? Then for heaven’s sake, get up and GO!
Because sometimes, how you feel is tied in — literally — with how you feel.
Taking care of yourself physically in these small ways, means you’ll find yourself better able to be your best self mentally and emotionally.