Your body is the only thing that no one can ever take away from you. While you are alive, you physical body is the only thing you are guaranteed to keep. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, whom you have received from God?,” Paul writes in Corinthians in the New Testament.
My performance in school was average from age 8 to 15. I did not work very hard at school, rarely doing my homework and just showing up for class. In 1979, when I was 15 years old, I started cutting and failing my classes at Cupertino High School which is located about a mile from the new headquarters of Apple Computers in Cupertino, California, USA.
When I started attending West Valley College in Saratoga, California, in January of 1982, I was starting over. I had been expelled from two high schools for cutting. I did believe in my intelligence and ability, but I had not yet proved it to myself at school. I finally followed my mom’s advice (years before she had been a classroom teacher). I took a Study Skills class where I learned about note taking, reading the text book, preparing for exams, and taking tests. I learned that generally one needs to study three hours for every hour spent in the college classroom. I spend most of the hours that I was awake focused on school. When I started working, it was at a job where I could study. I often spent 12 to 14 hours most day focused on school. I was an honor’s student. I had excellent grades.
In 1985, I hit a wall emotionally. I feel horrible. My lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise, loneliness, and worry took a toll on my brain and body. I crashed. I took a semester off and started seeing a counselor. I learned to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night, eat well, exercise, meditate, and talk to friends. I do not let myself feel so miserable, because I know what to do when I feel tired, nervous, or worried. I focus on taking care of myself.
Our sleep is the most important thing we do for psychological health. Before electric lights in 1907, the average person slept 9 hours a night. Now, the average person sleeps 6 hours and 24 minutes a night. Dr. Daniel Amen reminds us that if we fail to get six hours sleep a night, a SPECT scan of our brain reveals problems. Dr. James Maas writes that if you get plenty of sleep every night, you will probably feel more alert, have more energy, and be healthier generally. If we are tired, we have lower energy and gain weight. In every significant problem psychologically – such as depression, anxiety, addiction, obsessive thinking – poor sleep is involved.
It is not only our sleep, but our food that strongly contributes to our health. Dr. Barry Sears writes that “food is the most powerful drug that you will ever take.” Our food affects the functioning of our brain and body. Every cell in your body is made new every five months. This includes the cells of our brain. When we eat food balanced with fresh green carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, we feel and think better. When we are depressed, it is helpful to eat a balanced breakfast that keeps our blood sugar even. In the morning, I often drink a smoothie with protein powder which gives me energy and clear thinking.
Exercise is also very important as well as sleep and eating. Dr. Agatston writes that adults and teenagers are less active than their parents and grandparents. It is widely accepted that our bodies benefit greatly from exercise. But our brains are affected by exercise the most. When we exercise, we change the wiring of our brains. This change to the functioning of our brain improves our learning, memory, concentration, and focus. Exercise is the best treatment to reduce depression or anxiety available, writes Dr. Mark Hyman. Check with your doctor and then get some aerobic exercise for 20 to 40 minutes frequently.
Taking time to talk with friends or family who are supportive and compassionate listeners is very helpful as well. Learning to relax your mind also helps reduce stress. Getting time to relax and play are part of a healthy balanced life. All these are parts of self-care. You deserve to feel good! Please watch this video and learn more about self-care.