Take care of yourself

Adios. Au revoir. Auf wiedersehen. Go with God. Until the next time. Goodbye, which stems from “God be with you” and essentially means “I hope you don’t die before I can see you again.”

Take care of yourself. We say it all the time, and don’t even think about what it means before we say “you too!” and hang up, close the email or move along.

But there’s a real message there for everyone, and the unemployed in particular. I learned on a Monday afternoon that I had lost my job, would be out of work in five days. That announcement had not only a psychological effect, but a physical effect as well. I completely lost my appetite — and I’m a stress eater. When I’m angry, when I’m sad, or stressed, I eat, so not caring whether I put food in my mouth was unusual, to say the least. That  lasted a full week — I ate because it was time to eat, or because someone put food in front of me, not because I experienced hunger.

I’m not a drinker — I’ll have a drink or two socially, once a year or so I might drink to excess, but I suffer sometimes  from debilitating hangovers (not always, but I’ve never figured out when they might hit) so I avoid alcohol as a rule. But I consumed more alcohol in the 10 days after the announcement than I’d had in the preceding two years (and that includes a vacation at a Dominican Republic resort). There seemed to be more invitations to imbibe and fewer reasons not to.

I’d greeted my first Monday of layoff with a plan to get up early, go for a walk in the cool morning air (and perhaps again in the evening before bed) and to eat really well now that I was freed from the restrictions of Hours of Work that cut into gym time or forced me to eat lunch at my desk or meant I got home too late to feel like cooking and eating a proper meal. I don’t eat lunch at my desk any more, but I also might not eat lunch at all. One night this week I had cheesies for supper. And while I’ve joined my neighbour a few times as she walks her dog in the evening (her cats sometimes come too, which is kinda cool) that’s the exception, not the rule.

I feel like I’m spending more time in front of the computer than I did when I was paid to do so. I sit down in the morning, check my emails, check Facebook, play a game or two then start looking for work, working on work, sending out emails, writing letters, doing research, and before I know it it’s 4:30 or 5:00 and my eyes are sore and … maybe if I just check my email one more time there will be a job offer there. It’s a little bit manic, and I don’t know that I get much accomplished professionally, but I sure as hell don’t get any taking care of myself accomplished.

In that, I am not unlike many small business owners (right now I am my own small business, so I guess the analogy works) who put every waking hour into ensuring the success of their enterprise, neglecting their own health in the process. There’s an article about it in Fortune magazine: http://tinyurl.com/83kuajk

What those small business owners need to remember — and what I need to remember too — is that there is no success without health. Or if you have success, you can’t enjoy it if you’re on your deathbed. Taking care of your business starts with taking care of yourself. So here’s my new game plan: I’m going to cook (and eat) the broccoli in my fridge before it goes bad; I’m going to eat cherries instead of cheesies; and I’m going to beg my neighbour not to take no for an answer again when she invites me to join her on her nightly constitutional with the animals, or to tai chi on Wednesdays. It’ll help me stay sound of mind and body.