How to Be a Grownup: Figuring Out What Your Body Needs

Navigating your twenties can be a difficult time. You’re finally (maybe, hopefully) making some decent cash, maybe have a savings, maybe a significant other and are probably trying to figure out that mythical thing called a “work-life balance.” Between pressures of social media, pressures of those around you and just general societal pressures of other peoples’ expectations of what you should be doing with your life and when, it can be exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s also one of the best times because you’re still young and have finally (maybe, hopefully) figured out who you are as a person and what you’re willing to compromise on (or not), which is a killer feeling.

The one thing a lot of us skip out on is figuring out what our bodies, and minds for that matter, actually need. We’re told by practically everyone that we should be working harder (hey, workaholic generation) as well as longer, but also have a budding social life, should definitely be traveling and should look a certain way because working 60 hours a week definitely leaves lots of room to put in time at the gym (not).

It’s usually not until something happens (burnout, cramps, a cold, whatever) that you realize you’re not Wonder Woman and that you have to actually honour your body and what it needs and wants–and yeah, that changes each day.

At the risk of sounding totally cliche and corny, this is probably one of the most important lessons I’ve learned on this exhausting/chaotic/crazy/amazing journey we all call life. I am what you would categorize as your classic overachiever, constantly trying to do everything and do everything well until I inevitably burn out because I didn’t take some “me” time when I really needed to, causing me to crash at the most inopportune moments (like when I’m on deadline).

Yesterday morning I woke up with a sore throat and the worst headache I’d had in a long time. Instead of pushing myself to work through it (which would have incidentally made my work sloppy), I skipped my barre class and relaxed in bed instead (I didn’t even watch Netflix). When I woke up I was still feeling kind of shitty, so, instead of going to the yoga class I bartered with myself to take so that I was still getting some form of exercise, I went for a walk to get some fresh air and by the time I got back, I actually felt better. Do I kind of regret not getting in a “real workout”? Maybe, but I feel like I actually took care of myself in the way my body needed it, which is better than burning 100 extra calories or whatever.

We talk a lot about fitness and wellness and what it means to be healthy, and while exercise and eating right are so so important, so is giving your body and mind exactly what it needs. I scheduled that barre class in my calendar over a week ago (which is great if you’re trying to commit to a fitness plan), but when I woke up this morning, I knew the high-energy class just wasn’t going to work for me. And, frankly, I’m glad I didn’t force myself to go because I would have half-assed it all the way, wasting both my time and money and even potentially injuring myself because I know I wouldn’t have used proper form.

We can’t always just collapse at the office and take a nap (and I totally understand that not everyone has the luxury of working from home), but we can be realistic about what we’re able to do. If you’re not feeling well, go home and take a sick day or at the very least clear your schedule for the evening and do whatever it is that your body is probably begging and pleading to do.

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