Picture yourself driving a car on an almost empty tank; you’re in a hurry and you don’t have time to get gas. This situation that we all know too well. Then the ‘low fuel’ light comes on. You are now driving on your reserve fuel.
How many more kilometers or miles can you drive with the warning light on? Depending on the make of your car it’s usually between 50-80 kilometers. So there’s no immediate emergency; you know you can keep going for a bit. But if your destination is more than 50 kilometers away, you don’t want to risk it: you know you have to get some gas. If you disregard this warning that your car is giving you, there will be a ‘hard stop’ when you run out of fuel. You’ll be stranded. You don’t want to run out of gas: it’ll take a lot of extra time and hassle to refuel and you would reach your destination even later than you would have if you had stopped. You know there’s no ‘negotiating’ with you car, so you respect the car’s warning and stop to refuel, no matter how busy you are.
What about our bodies? What do we do when our body’s ‘warning light’ comes on?
Do we even know what our body’s warning light looks like? Do we recognize the warning signs, when we feel tired or irritated, when we have a headache or can’t concentrate anymore, or when the first signs of a flu present themselves?
When we should be planning a ‘refueling’ stop, we often just grab a coffee, a sweet snack or some painkillers…
When our body’s warning light comes on, there’s no hard stop, like there is for a car. We can always push ourselves just a little bit more.
We think that getting a good night’s sleep will solve the problem. We’ll take care of it after that deadline. “There’s just no time for it now.”
Sometimes we can indeed ‘overrule’ the tiredness and even the onset of flu with some coffee and pain killers. We just push on and after a while the warning light turns off again, or we just don’t notice it anymore.
But then we might get a migraine, or the flu might really hit us a week later. Our body is trying to tell us something.