Why do you get your car’s oil changed?
It’s likely that you don’t know exactly why your car needs fresh oil, or what exactly oil does in your vehicle. And that’s okay! You don’t need to know the intricate workings of your car’s engine to know that you ought to change your oil regularly. May you do it every 5,000 miles or every six months or so, or sooner (many mechanics say 3,000), or on whatever schedule your owner’s manual says – but whatever schedule you’re on, you do change your oil, and you do it regularly, likely all without understanding exactly why you need to do so. You do it because you understand that it’s part of your car’s essential maintenance. The experts tell you do change your car’s oil, and you trust them, and you understand implicitly that it’s worth spending money on oil changes because avoiding them will cost you more in the long run. You understand that proper maintenance is an investment in your vehicle, and that not being proactive in your car’s care will lead to much more costly problems down the line – and could perhaps even ruin your car forever.
Here’s the next question: do you do the same thing for your body?
Your body needs maintenance, too
You make sure that you routinely care for your car because you know that avoiding basic care will lead to bigger, costlier problems down the line, and may even ruin your car. You can, and should, use that same logic when you manage your own bodily health. The same principles apply, and the stakes are far higher: you can buy a new car if poor maintenance habits ruin yours, but there’s no way to buy a new body!
Think for a moment about how you manage your car’s condition. Almost every rule of protecting your car can also protect your life. Here are a few examples:
- Visit your mechanic: Your car needs to pay regular visits to the mechanic – not just when things go wrong, but periodically for routine check-ups and oil changes, too! Just like your car, you need to visit your mechanic: your doctor. Get a primary care physician and visit him or her for regular check-ups. Your doctor will tell you how soon to come back, just as your mechanic will tell you how soon you need your next oil change (as with cars, people – with their different levels of physical health – will vary in how often they need a check-up or tune-up).
- Use the right fuel: You wouldn’t put diesel in your non-diesel car, or vis versa. If you have an older car that needs extra care or a sporty car that demands the best, you’ll likely be told to use premium gas – and shouldn’t use anything less. The same goes for you: what you put into your body determines how well you run. If you put something terrible wrong in there, you could die (duh). If you put in poor stuff when your body craves good stuff, it’ll slow you down and shorten your life, just like a sporty car will suffer slowly if you consistently put regular into a tank demanding premium. This means exactly what you think it means: you need to eat a well-balanced diet, drink lots of water, and avoid junky stuff like chips, cake, and excess alcohol.
- Solve problems ASAP: Speaking of excess alcohol, how much are you drinking? If you think you have a problem, you need to act as soon as you can. Damage from excess drinking will mount and compound upon itself, causing massive problems for long-term drinkers. But alcoholics who get help fast by finding local AA meetings or another path to support may be able to stop before they cause serious long-term damage. And, yes, this is once again a principle you’ll be familiar with from car care. When a warning light comes on in your car, you know that continuing to drive without getting the problem fixed will cause the issue to grow larger, more costly, and potentially fatal to you car. The same principle applies to your health: to drinking problems, aches and pains, new lumps and skin spots, and countless other maladies. Catching illness early gives you a faster path to recover or (in the case of serious diseases) a better chance of survival. Ending bad habits like drinking, smoking, and overeating early gives you time to return to normal health and prevents the mounting problems of long-term addictions or bad habits. If you put on sunscreen, take steps to quit smoking, or change your drinking habits now, then you’ll be less likely to have to get cancer care or other more drastic treatments later on.
Treat your body like your car! It’s possible that this rule seems simple or silly to you. It certainly is simple, but it’s definitely not silly – as lighthearted as the comparison may seem, treating your body in the same way that you (should) treat your car is a great rule of thumb. By giving your body the regular care and “maintenance” it needs while maintaining good habits and getting care for problems fast, you’ll extend your life and the performance of your body. Your body is more important than your car, of course, so treat it that way!