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Take Care of Your Body, Take Care of Your Soul

Women can soothe their emotions by treating their bodies with care

I know that many of us only think negatively about our bodies. We may even block out the messages they send to us asking for love and care. Many women are stuck in their heads, but the body? Oh, I know it's here somewhere, but I don't want to look too closely. But if you can connect with your physical self, you will find life so much easier. No matter your size, your age, your health condition, your financial issues—your body needs you.

Dreamstime/Alena Ozerova
Source: Dreamstime/Alena Ozerova

Take care of your body, take care of your soul. It’s appreciating the wonder of human life and nurturing it. It’s something you can do no matter what shape you’re in. Just start from where you’re at. Even small changes make a huge difference.

This is going to get personal, with an emphasis on “person”! My other blog posts have dealt largely with your emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings; this one focuses on your body. Remember your body? That mass of cells you lug around with you all day? Well, now it’s time to give it a little lovin’!

And talking about soul—how are your feet? “Hello, feet! Thank you, feet, for everything you do for me!” When was the last time you paid some attention to your feet? Scrape away those calluses. Lovingly trim those toenails. Soak your feet in a lavender foot bath. Put on foot cream every night when you get into bed. Massage those hard-working muscles and tendons (do feet have tendons?). Give those toes a kiss!

Okay, now how about that other hard-working part of your body, your spine? How to keep your spine healthy? Every time you pass through a doorway, use it as a reminder to straighten your spine. Sit up straight when you’re working at the computer. Exaggerate it. Do some gentle twists. Turn your head left and right, up and down—gently!—and release the tension at the top of your spine. Swimming, yoga, if you can, is great for your spine’s mobility.

Talking about swimming, oh! Your lungs! Take care of your lungs! Big slow breaths. Fill those babies up! Expand and breathe, especially when you’re in nature. Conscious breathing is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to calm your body down. Don’t take it for granted!

Does your dentist know your name? When was the last time you went? C’mon, are you really flossing? Are you brushing for two minutes twice a day? Hey, are you using your night guard? My dentist suggests that I go for a checkup and cleaning every six to eight months but you’ve got to go at least once a year. Your teeth have to last a lifetime. I try to take good care of my teeth—I’m very attached to them.

Eyes—get ‘em checked every two years. Wear your sunglasses in the sun.

Skin—sunscreen. I’m particularly looking at those of you who live in sunny climates. Use sunscreen on your face and arms every day when you are in the sun. I’m bad at that.

No one is hydrated enough. I know I certainly am not—it’s amazing that I’m still alive! I’m sure you need to drink more water. Get those liquids in you—just chug it down if you don’t like drinking - but make sure it’s not sugary. Unsweetened herbal tea or water, water, water. The rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces a day—so if you weigh 160 lbs, try to drink 80 ounces.

And while we are on the topic of sugar, the body is a funny thing. If you’re used to eating a lot of sugar, you feel like you can’t live without it. But when you reduce your sugar consumption, it doesn’t take long for the body to say, yeah! I don’t like things that are too sweet. The body adjusts. You’ll be surprised how your quickly your tastes will adjust once you introduce simple healthy food, like salads or roasted vegetables into your diet on a regular basis. You will really start to enjoy them!

We’ve covered feet, spine, teeth, sugar, what’s next? How about how you present yourself? Do you need a haircut? If you color your hair, how long has it been? Is it time? What about those nails—do they need a little TLC? Trimming, shaping, maybe a dab of color. Are you making an effort in how you dress? You knew I’d get there eventually! Go look in your closet—are your clothes the right size? Do you get out of those sweatpants or leggings occasionally? Have you stopped wearing makeup, tweezing those eyebrows, if you typically do?

Now, very important, your bra. Admit it, you haven’t bought a new bra since Nixon was president! Are you wearing the right size? If you go to a lingerie shop, they’ll fit you properly and you’ll know your size. Most women don’t and are wearing the wrong size.

Do you do the self-breast exam? If you don’t, ask your doctor how to go about it or watch a reliable educational video. Do you have regular gyno exams? Keep yourself healthy.

Hello, my muscles! I remember you! I used to run and jump and do cartwheels a looong looong time ago. Well, don’t do cartwheels now, but you need to challenge your muscles to keep them strong or make them stronger. How do you do that? By moving. If you live in the country or a suburb, you probably drive everywhere. Time to put your sneakers on those well-loved feet and start to walk.

If exercise is not your thing, you can embrace walking. Start slowly and increase the distance and speed over time. Commit yourself to walking and it will make all the difference in your muscles. You can even walk outdoors somewhere in nature and feed your soul at the same time! If walking is not open to you, think about some exercises you can do that will stress and release your muscles. What is the next level that you can take it to?

The more you're in touch with what is going on inside your body, the easier it will be for you to manage anxiety and depression. Unite your mind and body and watch yourself glow!

More from Vikki Stark M.S.W., M.F.T.
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More from Vikki Stark M.S.W., M.F.T.
More from Psychology Today