IGNITE YOUR LIFE: “Take Care of Yourself”
by Sarah Gish
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This vintage adage (from 1659, per Wikipedia) is as true as it was when first coined. And we are still struggling with that work/play balance, 400 years later! “Take care of yourself” is the second way to ignite your life in my “IGNITE YOUR LIFE!” art project and community campaign (www.IgniteYourOwnLife.com) and the word associated with this concept is “NOURISH.” Working less and playing more nourishes our lives.
But how do we do that? I went to see Sunita Tarkunde of the Houston Ayurveda Center to see how that 4,000-year-old system of Indian medicine could help and she told me that my body was off balance and that I needed to shut down all screens at 10pm each night. She looked at me firmly and said “You shut down your screens, you listen to my meditation, and you go to sleep.” I’m a hard nut to crack – that was three years ago and I think I’ve followed Sunita’s advice only three times! But she’s right: the body needs rest. According to a study last February by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html), only 1/3 of Americans are getting enough sleep. Adults 18-60 years old should be getting seven hours of sleep each night. Co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, has written two books about sleep and what she’s termed a “sleep deprivation crisis.” I can’t emphasize this enough: getting enough sleep is an important way to nourish yourself.
Taking care of yourself involves putting yourself first and making your body, mind, and soul a priority. When I hit a wall with self-care recently, I wrote down five things that I need to do every week to stay sane and balanced and I posted that list in my bathroom so I’ll see it daily. I looked at my exercising, my spiritual needs, and my bedtime routine. I decided to do these five things: exercise regularly again, walk a labyrinth, get to a recovery meeting, sleep seven hours each night, and meditate each day. I haven’t been perfect but I do my best.
“Take care of yourself” is one of my twelve ways to ignite your life daily – ways that, if followed, will stave off depression, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. Being ignited for your life does that. I am an artist and I create when I have things I need to work out in my life. My brother Geoffrey Gish died of alcoholism in 2004 at 43 years old and I not only wanted to deal with my grief by honoring his bright and loving way of being in the world but I also wanted to encourage others to be ignited for their lives so that they could hopefully avoid that same tragic ending.
Over the next 12 years, I wrote 12 ways to ignite your life and summed up each way with one word to make them easy to remember; you can see the full list on the IGNITE YOUR LIFE! website. I now volunteer with teenagers, teaching them about the 12 ways and making bracelets (one is pictured) with all of the words as a service project at their sober high school, Archway Academy. The bracelets sell at Lucia’s Garden and Unity of Houston bookstore. Because of them, we are getting those concepts out into the world.
Sarah Gish is the founder of IGNITE YOUR LIFE
And publisher of GISH PICKS: Culture for Kids & Adults