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Look at your hands in front of you. See them? That’s part of your body. We each have our very own, and each one is different. Through out all of the variations that we are born with; if it's slightly longer legs, multi coloured eyes, or that freckle that’s shaped like a heart; we’re each created perfectly. No one is more or less flawed than the other.
Our bodies are the vehicle we use to navigate and interact with the world around us. All of the many sights, smells, sounds, and tastes that we experience are all given to us through the help of this vehicle. From the salivary glands in our mouths to the cutaneous receptors in our feet, our bodies are always working to send this information to us.
If you didn’t have a body, how would you see your best friend’s face every time she smiled? How would you taste your absolute favourite dish from the restaurant down the street? How would you hear the sounds of the birds singing their songs? You wouldn’t. It would simply be impossible. This is why we rely on our bodies so much as we live our lives each and every day.
Although, there is only one problem; we only have one. Only one. From the moment we are born to the last breath that we take, we operate the same vehicle. This is why we must take very good care of it. If you were only given one car to use for the rest of your life, would you not take every opportunity to make sure it stays in good condition? What if your car’s windows were cracked? You would not be able to see outside clearly. Or if your breaks weren’t working? You would not be able to come to a complete stop. Your body acts in the same way; it must be kept in peak condition in order to fully experience everything that the world has to offer.
So what can we do to ensure that our vehicle is kept in optimal condition? The list is never ending, although here’s a couple of the most important things we need to be mindful of.
Get enough sleep.
Have you ever had one of those days when you didn’t get in your full seven to eight hours of sleep? Your mind was slower. You couldn’t think clearly. You had more unhealthy cravings. Sleep is extremely important for the health of our bodies, because it is during this time that they regenerate themselves and prepare for the next day. Our sympathetic nervous system has a chance to slow down as our cortisol levels drop. Tears in muscle fibres all through out our bodies are stitched back together. The calcium and phosphate deposits within our bones are replenished. And most importantly, our brains are able to restore themselves as they enter a state of alpha brain wave production. Without an adequate amount of sleep, our entire day will be thrown off because of the improper functioning of our brains. A tired brain makes an unhappy body.
Eat good food.
By eating ‘good’ food, I mean eating a diet that is full of variety and health conscious decisions. A vehicle cannot operate properly if it’s given poor quality gas. One’s diet should include healthy foods from every food group each day, each of which providing a different set of macro and micronutrients, as well as important vitamins, minerals, and other functional food components. Instead of reaching for that bag of potato chips which are overloaded with sodium and saturated fat, head to the fridge and grab an apple with a bit of nut butter, or whip up a veggie salad with some antioxidant rich berries. Your body will thank you for it. When it comes down to taking on the rest of the world, if it's fighting off a cold or finishing that last kilometre on your run, the quality of the gas that your body is running on makes all the difference.
Get enough exercise.
Exercise has an amazing impact on the body and keeps it in optimal physical condition. It has been shown to have a wide variety of effects, some of which include an increase bone density, an increased metabolism, a lower resting heart rate, improved blood circulation, improved quality of sleep, and of course improvements in muscular strength, power, endurance, and flexibility through out the joints.
Not only does it benefit the physical body, but the health of our mind as well. Exercise has been shown to improve quality of mood, fight off unhealthy cravings, regulate appetite, boost self confidence, and so much more! What not many people know is that only a minimum of 21 minutes of moderate to strenuous physical activity per day is needed in order to get its benefits. Thus, you don’t need to be an olympic power lifter or a life-long triathlon athlete to receive all of the great things that is has to offer. Make it something that you enjoy doing; if it’s calling up your buddies for a game of soccer or going for a jog along your favourite trail, exercise is exercise, regardless of the activity. As long as you keep moving, your body will be happy.
As important as exercise is, being mindful is just as important. Your bodily functioning is regulated by a set of diverse hormones that circulate through out your blood stream and act upon different organs. One very special hormone, cortisol, is one of these. It acts during times when we feel alert, and our body is more or less ‘activated.’ If we are continuously stressed, on the edge, or over working ourselves, our cortisol levels within the blood can become chronically high. This can have a negative effect on the way our body functions; including things like its digestion, heart rate, and the production of other regulatory hormones. Mindfulness is important in that it keeps our cortisol levels in check, and prevents the malfunctioning of all of the bodily processes that it has an effect on. On another level, it keeps us connected to our higher selves/God/the universe, and reminds us that our life is truly divine and that each of us have a special purpose to fulfill.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many more steps that we can take to ensure the optimal functioning of our vehicles. We require them to be kept at peak capacity in order to fully experience what our lives have to offer us each and every day. Although your body is technically a part of you, you must nurture and a take care of it as if it was an entirely different person. Giving it the right fuel, enough rest, adequate exercise, and moments to reflect and develop are only a few of the things required to keep it at its highest level of functioning. And so, as you go through out your day, try to keep these things in mind.
So as you see your hands in front of you, remember that they are a part of you. All of the bones and muscles combined into a chain of segments and wrapped in a layer of skin is all you. You are your body; from the hair on your head to the tips of your toe nails. Respect it. Take care of it. Nurture it. Love it. You are only given one for your entire life. We cannot chose which one we are given; nor have any say on what it looks like or how it functions. The one we get is the one we get, so make sure it lasts.