How well do you look after your car? Well, the law in the UK at least, states that you must obtain an annual MOT certificate, to prove your car is road-worthy. You’ll also get regular services, every 6-12 months. On top of that, it’s likely that you get it looked at whenever you hear an unrecognisable noise, or feel a little chug. And, you probably clean it fairly regularly (or not if you’re like me) – possibly doing it yourself, maybe even finishing with a polish, as an act of true love. Or you might pay for someone else to do it. And on top of all of that, you fill it up with the right fuel every day. Otherwise, it might not work.
My point being that your car needs looked after in order to operate well. We sometimes take a lot out of them, and expect them to perform when we want. On the flip side, if your car is left untouched and undriven for weeks at a time, that can create problems too. So you need to make sure it’s run regularly, just to keep it ticking over.
Compare this to how we look after our own bodies in the western world. How often do you give yourself a bit of TLC? What would a good clean and polish be for you? Are there any creaks that need some attention? What’s the right fuel for you?
Isn’t it odd that most of us will spend more money taking care of our car if it’s not performing, than we would on ourselves?
Here’s my maintenance plan for humans:
The Annual MOT
- At least a yearly visit to your doc is a good idea just for a quick chat to talk about how your body or health has been doing over the last year
- Take at least a week off work a few times a year, preferably one away from home, to relax, recuperate and recharge – because even the best performers need to recharge
Servicing Every 6-12 Months
- Make time to meet up with old friends every 6 months – talk, laugh, share. It’ll remind you there’s life outside your hamster wheel
- Take a fresh look at your personal service plan every 6-12 months. Did you set some goals last year? How did you do? Have you been working too much? Exercising too little or too much? Note some ways you want to change your next service plan
- Once or twice a year, have a good clear-out. Get in to the back of those cupboards and wardrobes, and pull out those bags and boxes filled with stuff you don’t ever remember putting there. Ask yourself what you need and what you don’t need, then pass it on to someone somewhere its needed
- If you notice something isn’t quiet right – physical or mental – make an appointment with your doctor to talk about it. Or go visit the pharmacist if you’re not sure it warrants a doctor
- Sometimes the odd creak can be helped by a physiotherapist or alternative medicine practitioner. Get things seen to before they turn into something more costly (from your body’s perspective)
- Do you need someone to talk to outside of family or friends? Counselling or therapy can be a great tool to help get over a hump
Monthly Cleaning and Polishing
- For me, a month without my massage therapist is a grim month indeed. I’ve come to view it a necessity to keep my body and mind in good shape. I choose that over many other expenses. For others it may be pampering at the hairdresser, or having your nails done. Or find something that doesn’t cost a penny – just make sure there’s something to keep you feeling sane.
- I try to keep my wine-drinking enjoyment down to 6-8 days a month. This helps me keep a clear head most of the time, keeps my sugar-alcohol intake fairly low, means I’m less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks and doesn’t completely kill the joy of enjoying a drink occasionally
- Consider your stress levels. How’ve you been over the last month? Too busy? Family problems you should talk about? What can you do to keep yourself on more of an even keel? Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, walking in nature, reading on the sofa, hot baths, laughter, dancing (like I did a minute ago when Crazy in Love came on the radio) – find your own stress-reliever and use it often
- How do your fuel yourself on a daily basis? Making sure you drink lots of water, keep caffeine intake in check, eat nutritious meals with a balance of healthy fats, protein and carbs that’s right for your body are all really important to make sure your body performs as you expect it to
- Prioritise a good nights sleep, every night if it’s possible. We need around 8 hours a night to operate well each day. And some of us need more than that. This is just as important as diet and exercise, if not more
- Move your body as often as you can. You don’t have to be in the gym every day pumping iron and running marathons on the treadmill, but you do need to move. Take a daily walk, even just 10 minutes, try some pilates or yoga, go to a dance class where you can move and laugh with others, or take yourself out for a wee jog. Every little helps. If you’re immobile for long periods, that’s not a good thing
- Make time to have fun and socialise. Laughter and connection are critical for our health, both physically and mentally, so schedule it in and have a good chuckle
So there you have it. It takes a considered care plan to keep your body in tip-top shape. And there will be times when it’s not all possible, but keep the intention there and it will start to become a good habit.
Next time you berate yourself or your body for not quite being good enough or performing as you’d like it to, ask yourself if you’ve been taking care of it as much as your car.