Listen to your body

April 25, 2014 

Enjoy what your body wants to do. Bodies like to rest, but they also like to be active. Bodies like different kinds of food that are eaten with enjoyment. -- Deepak Chopra

Listening to your body is important. If you do not, you could end up paying a high price like I just did.

About four weeks ago, I took an amazing trip through Spain and five other countries with my daughter's family. We had a rental car, and my son-in-law, Jason, did an amazing job getting us through the narrow and twisty roads. When we stopped in Granada, I decided to race my daughter up four flights of stairs, but it was hard to call the winner since I tripped just as we hit the top step -- in hindsight, this may have been an early precursor of things to come.

In 10 days, we covered 1,700 miles and changed hotels just about every night. It was a very enjoyable trip because it gave me an opportunity to spend time with my family and see many neat sites, but the pace was breakneck. And that was only the beginning.

We returned home on Sunday, and then on Tuesday, I went over to Dothan to visit a very special lady I am seeing.

On Thursday, I headed out again on a 6 a.m. flight for an afternoon meeting. I returned home on a 6 a.m. flight the next morning to make a presentation that afternoon.

That very next Monday, I took a 6 a.m. flight to Fort Lauderdale where I am serving in an interim position down there. I went in to work that afternoon but was feeling really bad. I developed a fever and a hacking cough, which got worse and worse as the evening progressed. I was finally forced to write my boss that I would not be coming in the next day.

Tuesday morning, I went to an urgent care center where the doctor diagnosed me with pneumonia, strep throat, bronchitis, an infection and just about every other malady a human could have. Needless to say, the doctor gave me more prescriptions than I could possibly carry out of the pharmacy.

I spent the next three days sick in my hotel room -- which I would add is an awful place to be when you are sick. I decided to cut the trip short and come home on Friday, opting to drive, as I felt flying would be rougher on my lungs.

As I write this column, I am on my sofa trying not to exert myself. I know I have just plain overdone it with all my travels and work.

Throughout this incredibly stressful time, I never really considered how I was feeling or what I needed to be doing to take care of myself. Rather, I was preoccupied with figuring out how to keep going without letting any of the plates slip off the rack.

In hindsight, my body had been giving me pretty clear signals that I needed to slow down. All along, I felt extremely tired. Any time we stopped, I was looking for a place to sit down and rest, which is unusual for me. I just was not listening. By ignoring these signs, I put my health at risk and lost a bunch of consulting income.

Make sure you are listening to your body. It will tell you when you are overdoing it, and it is important to heed these warnings. Life is too short to put your health in jeopardy.

Jerry Osteryoung, a consultant to businesses, is Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship (emeritus) and professor of finance (emeritus) at Florida State University. Reach him at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com.

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