When I give talks on Organizational Zen, I always end with a slide that says, “Take Care of Yourself”. It occurred to me recently to move this slide to the front of the pack because if you aren’t healthy, getting organized is the last thing you want to tackle.
“Take Care of Yourself” sounds simple, but we know it’s not. Are you careful about what you expose your body to? Are you getting enough sleep? How are you doing for exercise? Do you have quiet time each day to help manage stress?
How could I give this only one slide? 🙂
In this post, I’ll tackle my favorite part of self-care: Things you expose your body to.
I’ll admit it: I’m a foodie. I read every ingredient label and agonize over the food I eat. Where was it grown? Does it include additives? Did anyone suffer from the collecting of this food?
Bottom line: Is it healthy for the planet, and for me to eat this?
If you aren’t sure what’s in your food or where it came from, read any of Michael Pollan’s books. I love In Defense of Food. The Food Babe‘s blog has lots of good advice when it comes to understanding the multitude of ingredients on a label. And my all time favorite foodie book that got me to quit eating meat and to pay attention to the sustainability of the food I eat is Jane Goodall’s book Harvest for Hope.
The best way to change a food habit is to observe what you are eating now, jot it down in a planner each day for a week, and see what patterns emerge. If you have big culprits in your diet that need purging, focus on one or two and find healthier alternatives for those items. Then move on to others. Paying attention to the details of what you eat and drink brings clarity and breaks a big problem into smaller parts so it’s easier to solve.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and most lotions are not regulated for content which means they can contain all sorts of unpronounceable ingredients. My golden rule is that if you can’t eat it, you probably don’t want it on your skin. Many companies are coming out with natural skin care lines. Or you can try using less lotion. I use very little suntan lotion these days because there aren’t any that are natural enough to eat! Instead, I bought a wide-brimmed hat, I cover up any exposed skin on sunny days, and I try to not to spend time outside during the hottest parts of the day.
Scented candles and air sprays may smell nice but they can pollute your house. If you love a flickering flame, pure beeswax candles do the trick and actually help clean the air. Check out the ingredients in most candles and sprays and you won’t want to breathe them!
Clothing and Household Items
The dye in clothing is often set with nasty chemicals. New clothes should be washed before they touch your skin using the most natural soap possible. Here’s a list of 5 natural laundry soaps. I’m a personal fan of Seventh Generation products. And be wary of anything that’s permanent press, including sheets, as most contain formaldehyde. Here’s a list of a bunch of items in your house that may contain formaldehyde. Yuck!
The biggest pollutant to your body could be any meds you’re taking. I know meds can be life-saving, but before you take anything, make sure I know all possible side effects. And look for natural alternatives when possible – like taking a hot bath to relieve sore muscles rather than take Advil or the equivalent. Remember that the pharmaceutical companies aren’t in business to cure you – they want you to stay alive AND to keep taking their meds!
What’s cool about tackling this list is that a lot of the stress in our lives comes from feeling out of control. But you have control over what you expose your body to. You can make daily decisions about anything on this list, and while changing habits is a crazy business, deciding is really good for your brain.
Sending you the love of Organizational Zen. Stay grounded, please!