by Liza Andrews
“Me time” has always been an expensive asset, and the first thing people tend to neglect when they are busy or focused on something important is their health. Artists chain-smoke over their canvases claiming that what matters is their creation. Writers spend nights awake crafting their novels. Most of humanity takes health for granted and just keeps pushing through insane routines of handling jobs, family, and numerous obligations with little or no time for basic self-maintenance. One thing I learned by working with cancer survivors was that neglecting your body is not worth it. Not for art, duty or any other reason. Our genius is definitely in our minds, but the vessel that holds it is far more precious for no treasure can be contained in a broken jar. Our DNA can cause considerable, unpredictable mess. We don’t need to feed the fire by deliberately neglecting our basic health care. In my personal experience, I noticed that even one’s intellectual or artistic genius may be compromised by illnesses or accidents that deeply change one’s life-style. Being ill or even temporarily not having control over one’s body can be mentally disturbing to the point of affecting one’s sense of self. In the beginning, the physical issue causes pain and discomfort, but it remains alien. A novelty. When recovery takes too long or there is no permanent cure for a health problem, the damage may be greater in the mind.
How many stories have we heard of talented people whose lives were cut short due to stupid illnesses? How many athletes have found themselves prisoners of a wheelchair, longing for the days they could merely walk? Once one gets used to being ill or incapacitated, he or she is no longer their familiar self and they often don’t know how to readjust to social and professional life. If objective reevaluation and reinvention does not occur, depression and even death are common next steps. So, if you are already in this gray area, look for help. And if you are not, step back out of your robotic routine for a while. Bad things don’t happen only to other people and prevention is the best medicine for most problems. No matter how busy you are, find time to exercise a little, to have a healthy meal, to sleep enough, and to do your annual tests. The first step of reinventing ourselves may be simply realizing how fragile our bodies are; how much they depend on us; and how many extra years of life daily care can buy us.