This time of year, you will find a lot of people really committing to self-care, though they can’t seem to identify what exactly that entails aside from “eating well” and “running” (I’m not sure whether it must be running or whether walking will do).
Toseland and I were chatting and he told me about one of his kids giving him a car-care kit for Christmas, and how he was trying hard to be excited about it because he remembered being really excited about giving them to his Dad when he was a kid. Just in case, you don’t know, a car care kit is a collection of items for caring for your car. It usually includes “everything you need to keep your car looking like new”, typically things like car wash, wax, leather conditioner (for the steering wheel), tyre blacking, and assorted washing and buffing cloths.
And that got me thinking (warning: some basic philosophising ahead).
What is this self that needs care?
One of the most common beliefs about the self is that it has two pieces; the immortal soul, and the body that carries it about. The body has no life without the soul, but the soul survives in some way beyond the body’s death be it heaven, reincarnation or some other place. Other less common beliefs include that the soul is indivisible from the body, that it is inseparable from the rest of creation, and that it isn’t a self at all but a tiny piece of a larger entity. We’ll look at those some other time.
So, if your body is basically a car, why should you care for it?
The main reasons people take care of their cars are:
- to minimise the chance of premature death
- to maximise the reliability, and, therefore, the life of the car
- minimise police interest in you and the car’s contents
- to look good to others as you drive by
- to demonstrate your social worth/value
Taking care of your body does the same.
How to care for your Self
Taking the lead from industrious car owners everywhere, here is some self-care inspiration.
1. Keep it clean, store it properly and use good quality fuel
A clean car suggests that the person driving it cares about their things and consequently the people they come into contact with. Additionally, dirt and grime build up potentially damaging the car, reducing its safety performance and its resale value. Correctly storing your car keeps it clean, safe, and rodent free. The best quality fuel is fresh, uncontaminated fuel, and this keeps the car in peak operating condition.
This suggests that taking care of yourself requires that you bathe regularly and secure yourself clean and safe accommodations. Good hygiene reduces your general susceptibility to disease, makes you more self-confident and attractive to others as well as improving your social and professional credibility. Good quality, unprocessed food does the same. Together they also reduce your healthcare costs.
2. Carry out routine maintenance
A car requires regular maintenance to ensure its efficiency, responsiveness, and reliability, as well as your safety. Car manufacturers helpfully provide schedules to tell you when to do things like to have your engine tuned, replace key parts and wheels rotated. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say. And you can’t do it yourself; modern cars are a complex interplay of computing, electrics, and hair triggered safety equipment. When you fiddle with them, you risk damaging both the car and yourself and invalidating your warranties and insurance cover.
Humans have maintenance routines as well. Things like your 6-monthly dental check-ups, two yearly eye examinations, when to start getting blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checked, pap smears and mammograms for ladies, prostates for men. We are all different, so consult with your general doctor to see what they recommend for you in your particular situation. Book them and commit to carrying them out. Don’t be tempted to DIY; your body is also a complex interplay of systems that you shouldn’t fiddle with. You should seek professional advice.
3. Think ahead
Dedicated car owners think ahead. They make preparations to protect their cars from Summer’s heat and strong UV rays by parking in the shade and using window shades. And they make preparations for Winter with anti-freeze, snow tyres and by servicing winter units like heating and window defrosting. They also buy the best insurance coverage that they can afford; not just for the vehicle, but for third parties and property as well.
For yourself, this equates to remaining well hydrated and minimising your Summer activity to prevent sunstroke and heat stress, as well as avoiding direct sun exposure with SPF 50 lotions and appropriate UV protective clothing. In Winter, you need to avoid hypothermia by protecting yourself from the cold with warm clothes and drinks, and adequate movement. Again insurance is valuable if only to ensure prompt treatment of conditions as they develop.
4. Keep its records up to date
Careful car owners keep their licence, registration, insurance and medical information records up to date in case they get pulled over or crash. They also maintain their service records so they can tell car mechanics the last time something was done (which saves money on unnecessary services, provides proof for warranty claims and may increase the resale value).
Knowing when and what your last blood pressure measurements, cholesterol and blood sugar (etc.) are, gives you the heads up on the progression of some diseases and the opportunity to take preventative action.
5. Drive responsibly
Driving carefully, paying attention to what you are doing (not your phone), and looking out for risks prolongs the life of you and your car. Just as you wouldn’t actively drive into danger, don’t seek it out or walk into it either.
Does this sort of approach bring you any clarity for your definition of self-care? Or am I just making it worse?