February… the month of love. With valentine’s day intended to make even the most unromantic of us reach out to those we love, and then this year of course was the leap year… historically the 29th of February is a date when women can ask men to marry them rather than the other way round. Of course things have (thankfully) moved on a lot, and if it takes your fancy, I encourage you to ask the one you love for their hand in marriage regardless of who you are or indeed they are and no matter the day of the year… but my point is that February is the month of love - so what does this have to do with a wellbeing blog post I hear you ask?!
Well let me tell you… this month I wanted to talk about what I hope can be your greatest love affair of all… the one you have with yourself. Please note, this is not an awkward reference to masturbation - I am talking about self-care (which could include masturbation I guess…. Wow, this post has taken a turn!)
Masturbation aside, what I really wanted to reflect is how little time we seem to give to ourselves. Many of us are holding down jobs (maybe multiple jobs), juggling careers with home life - looking after children, as well as our parents as they got older and more worrisome. We are trying to do it all. Not only do we work hard but we want to play hard - hoping to avoid FOMO (fear of missing out). We’re striving for, or holding down, our career, we’re trying to eat healthily, be healthy, we’re trying to support our friends as they go through life’s ups and downs and steer our children onto the right path - trying to teach them about balance and enjoyment and that school marks and social status are not all important - whilst we ourselves are doing everything we can to keep up with the Jones’ - or simply keep afloat.
Whilst there is a huge amount of noise around about self-care, mindfulness, minimalism, wellbeing and getting back to basics… my experience is that is really difficult to do. I think ’doing’ wellbeing can be exhausting. Has anyone else tried getting up at 5.30am in order to fit in a ‘healthy morning routine’ in? I have…. 20 minutes meditation followed by a 20 minute yoga flow, 5 minutes of journaling and a quick 3k run all before preparing Instagram-able avocado on toast before skipping (make that crawling) out the door….. I have to ask the question… could ‘doing’ wellbeing actually be making me feel worse?
On reflection I realise that my version of wellbeing is still about meeting someone else’s expectation of what self-care and self-love is. What I think we all need to do is figure out what makes us tick. What gives us a sense of wellbeing, or feeling calm, grounded and like we’ve made time for ourselves. In a world where we are trying to be everything to everyone, what’s missing is the conversation with ourselves.
Writing this post really got me thinking about what makes me tick. I love going on a trudge in the countryside, wrapping up in blankets with my cat and reading a book. I enjoy cooking (not socialising necessarily… just the cooking!) and I don’t think there is anything better than a long scorchingly hot bath whilst watching You Tube. I also really like drinking fizzy soda whilst eating pizza and ice cream. Now I don’t do the last bit all that often because.. well, let’ be real.. you have to think about your health a bit, and I don’t always find the time to cook. Sometimes my anxiety means I don’t read as often as I would like (because I can’t concentrate)…. But all of that said I have to ask myself the question; if I spent less time trying to live the social media version of wellbeing - would I have more time to do things I love? Even if that was sitting with a cup of tea and good book for 30 minutes before work (gosh even just writing that sounds like bliss).
So, as we all reflect on the month gone by - I challenge you to ask yourself - are you giving yourself time for self-care? Do you know what really makes you feel good? Are you treating yourself as well as you treat those you love? If not - what can you do differently? (and without guilt I might add, because self-care should be indulgent and it should not be apologised for). I believe we can absolutely be the best versions of ourselves if we can treat ourselves well and with love and kindness. I honestly believe it is only when we are kind to ourselves, when we love ourselves, that we can pass this forward to others - whether that’s being the patient and fun mum / dad, the caring and considerate son / daughter, the loving, engaged partner or the hardworking motivated colleague.
So, with that - consider this post the permission you need to treat yourself well!