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Be Kind (to yourself)

"Take care of yourself". It's a phrase I have heard in many different contexts. Sometimes due to a situation on earth, usually caused by us humans, in which there is specific political or environmental unrest. Other times when recovering from something personal. And very seldom as a general piece of advice. It sounds like something so obvious, to take care oneself, but for me personally and maybe to others as well, it is not something one is particularly conscious about. It is often in stressing situations or during sickness or weakness that one thinks "Oh I really should take good care of myself now". But lately I have been realizing that it should always be taken into account. Only when one can takes care of oneself, can one take care of others.

Paradoxically, I started to become aware of this due to a situation like the one described above. It was September, I had just started doing my internship in the kindergarten, and I got a slight cold. This cold, triggered by a bonfire night on the balcony in which I unwillingly breathed a lot of smoke, worked itself up and started to peak during a Canoe Seminar I had signed up for over the weekend. We were camping and spending a lot of time outside. I didn't feel weak, but I had a very runny nose. It wasn’t until Sunday, the last say of the seminar, when I felt and accepted I had a real cold, for the first time in a long time. The next day however, I had to wake up early to go to class and didn't get much rest. And so the week went on, with snuffles, then a sore throat, then snuffles again, a few sneezes here and there, nothing that I took seriously. Part of me wanted to rest but my pushy perfectionist way of being always set this aside. It’s a part of my personality which gets me far when I want to give up but which can keep me back from listening to my body instead of my mind. A lot of kids in the kindergarten were also sick and kept on coming regardless. "Kids today are not allowed to be sick anymore and really rest. The parents work too hard and feel like they always need to send their kids to the kindergarten" complained one of elderly teachers. And then I thought of myself, and my situation. I felt proud of "working" anyways, not letting anything get in the way. And I honestly didn't feel that bad. But if it wasn't because I had to be there, because I only have very few days of sick leave, or because I had to go to the doctor in order to excuse my sick absence, I might have take a morning off to rest. It wasn't until 5 weeks later, when I still had a stuffy nose, that it occurred to me to do a vapor bath before going to bed. I followed this by a coffee scrub. It all felt so good, and I felt so relaxed, as if I was 7 again and my mom had relieved me from all discomfort with love and attention. I did this twice and since then my stuffed nose is clear and I finally feel fully healthy again.

When I was a teenager I remember having a cold, going to the doctor, hearing the doctor say that I was too sick to do sport, and going to the gym anyways. I thought it was healthier to keep on doing sport than to listen to my body and give it a rest. Yes, I could do sport anyways and not feel that bad, but my body would have probably been more greatly to take a break from the routine and receive some extra love. Sometimes we think we are taking care of ourselves but in thinking so, we may get lost in the rationality of our thoughts and unconsciously ignore the natural signs of our bodies. Like a kid intrinsically stops eating when he or she is full versus an adult, who has the power to trick it's body and push it to its limit, even if its not always the healthy way to go about it.