This is Day 16 in the 31 Days of Small series.
Little children (at least the ones that belong to me and the literal thousands of students I've taught over the years) usually operate best when their basic needs are met: food, drink, sleep, shelter, comfort. They also need routines, expectations, and stimulus. When one of these basic needs is threatened or withheld, they can shut down until that need is met. Sometimes they get angry. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes they throw tantrums, and sometimes they space out.
Even the cute ones lose their minds from time to time.
I'm not sure when we grow up enough to believe those basic needs no longer apply to us. For a lot of us, we discover our independence in college because no one is making us do anything anymore. One day we decide that we can go without a little sleep and then we find ourselves acting like angry zombies the next week. We fail to eat balanced meals and deal with bloated bellies and digestive issues. We wear clothes that do not fit right or things that are not weather-appropriate and spend the entire day tugging and pulling. We refuse to get up off of the couch or out of our offices to get some much needed daylight and exercise and pay for it with poor health and medications to get our bodies straight again.
And I think there is a direct correlation between not taking care of ourselves physically on the most basic level and our feelings of smallness. I know that when I'm not doing the basic things I need to do for myself--eat, sleep, water, exercise--that my emotional well-being gets all out of whack as well. If I'm not taking the time to meet those basic needs, then I know that I'm more prone to anxious and depressive thoughts and behaviors. I find myself more irritable, more exhausted, and more introverted than usual. Those voices in my head and heart are not friendly and I have a hard time telling them to be quiet.
However, when I take the time to exercise and do things that I enjoy, I'm closer to my best self. When my husband insists that I go to bed on time, I'm a happier person in the morning. When I eat balanced meals and choose water, I have less headaches and happier intestines. When I take the time for prayer and reflection, I find those voices to be replaced by the truth of His words and I'm able to fight a little harder the next day.
What do you need to do to be a little kinder to your physical and emotional self today?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Sometimes people require medical interventions to deal with their emotional and mental well-being--I've been there before and it is a hard road. There is no shame in having to see a therapist, requiring medication, and/or not being able to pray your way back to happiness. Sometimes there is a legitimate medical issue like a chemical imbalance which must be dealt with, and like diabetes and other conditions requiring daily medicine and care, your body needs assistance. If you feel like something is wrong and you can't seem to get yourself back together, please do not hesitate to contact a professional.