How often do you actually stop and take a moment just for yourself? I don’t mean the “oh I’ll just buy myself that, it will cheer me up” and treat yourself. I mean truly stop and ask yourself how you are – really?
Allowing yourself a moment to hear the truth, from inside. The real you that only creeps out at night when sleep seems so elusive and you try to will away confronting the real and raw you.
We exist in a world where the pressure to be all things to all people can be utterly overwhelming. We race through each day, cramming in as much as possible while checking our phones for other peoples’ lives and responding instantly to the continual ping of emails and messages. It’s exhausting.
I believe we are, as a country, addicted to this lifestyle, addicted to the feeling of being stretched and stressed. So many of us don’t take lunch-breaks and coffee breaks are no longer a break at all, they are spent on our mobiles and yet another example of our rush to get to the next appointment, meeting, responsibility.
Where is the stillness, even for a moment?
Such is the extent of our inability to pause, breathe and silence our mental chatter that there are a plethora of apps for calmness to aid meditation and enforce these moments. It’s a start of course, but I’m not sure that’s really how it’s meant to be. Surely it’s just another thing we’ve failed to fit into the day, another trigger for anxiety, another layer of guilt?
I have this mental turmoil with walking my dog. She is the perfect reason to carve out a moment to breathe as I exercise her, but so often that becomes a burden rather than a moment of release and reflection or the space to tune out. Instead it’s an additional responsibility that prays on my conscience each day, and so I pass that moment to someone else, denying myself the opportunity to refresh my mindset with fresh air, exercise and the chance to re-centre.
But if we don’t care for ourselves, for our true selves that no one else can reach and see, until it’s too late and it spills over, who will?
The conversations around mental health are improving, but we still have to break the stigma that self-care is seen as selfish.
There is nothing wrong with nourishing your own spirit; ultimately it allows you to be a better person. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’.
It’s time we get to know ourselves, to understand our limits and triggers. As hard as it is, we need to start to stop. We need to practice the art of listening to ourselves, allowing honesty with our bodies, tuning in to what feels right and wrong and what needs nourishment. If we were someone else in need of care, we’d give it, right? Yet we seem to deny ourselves that basic right. So before burnout is reached, it is possible to take control of the runaway train and start stopping! We need to breathe and create moments of stillness and calm within our day.
This investment in ourselves enables us to be more empathetic, more giving, more productive, more connected to our lives.
So be kind to yourself. Take moments, however fleeting, and top up your own engine so you can continue to be the superhero in your own life.