Yesterday, my husband took our car in for a tune-up and oil change. This happens periodically, of course, and I notice that the frequency is somewhat predictable. We have a number of triggers that let us know when it is time for "car care".
If you're a car owner you know what I'm talking about. Your car maintenance schedule is kept on track by a set of rules related to events in the life of your vehicle, such as the number of miles or months between recommended oil changes. In accordance with these rules, there are reminders:
- a little sticker on the windshield
- a light on the dashboard that says "maintenance due"
- a note from the dealership or repair shop providing a gentle nudge to come in soon
Of course, all this got me thinking about the level of support we get caring for our cars compared to caring for ourselves! Our human "maintenance rules" can be confusing and changeable. We probably don't get any stickers, lights, or nudges to prompt us to take action at appropriate intervals. Perhaps that is why many of us invest more in car-care than in self-care...
No one questions the importance of caring for our cars. In addition to basic transportation, they are linked with a sense of freedom, fun, adventure, and connection with people and places who are beyond walking distance. Most of us would avoid letting our cars run out of gas, run on threadbare tires, or develop engine troubles. Many of us might even take pleasure in maintaining an unscratched finish, a shiny, clean exterior, and a fresh, uncluttered interior. In short, we take responsibility and pride in maintaining this valuable asset.
Caring for ourselves seems very different. We say that we value health, yet our systems for healthcare and self-care don't always reflect this. We don't come with owner's manuals, of course, so we have to figure it out on our own! On the whole, we tend to be reactive - delaying care and putting the responsibility on others to know what we need and when we need it. Some of us may even resist taking care of ourselves, secretly or publicly labeling it as "selfish" or "indulgent". Forget about maintaining "shiny exteriors" - we are barely avoiding breakdowns!
It doesn't have to be this way. But if we follow the unwritten "human maintenance rules" of our current culture, it isn't likely to change anytime soon.
If you were to write a set of maintenance rules for yourself, what would they be? How often would you invest in preventing health problems and promoting your well-being? What would you do daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly?
In the end, you are the one who gets to decide how and when to care for yourself or to seek care from others on your healthcare team. You get to write your own owner's manual! What do you need to have the level of health and vitality that you want?
I invite you to think about how you want to invest in the health and well-being that support your one "wild and precious life" (a valuable asset indeed!) Then share your "maintenance rule" ideas with me in the comments below. I'd love to hear what you think!