I was reading an article about mental health, when I came across this expression:
You have to look after yourself before you can look after the rest of the world.
It sounds obvious, but - to be honest - it was a bit of a light bulb moment for me.
You see, we all run around madly trying to earn money, bring up our children, look after our parents, the dog, and - somewhere along the line - squeeze in the odd 'date night', and there just isn't enough time to look after ourselves.
I feel guilty if I even sit down, let alone take time out for a massage or a pedicure.
I'm actually rather thrilled that my hair is going grey (fyi, American friends, that's not a typo, it's the correct spelling of grey. See also colour), because I'm forced to go to the hairdresser every six weeks to have it coloured (never say dye), which means that I have to sit still for nearly two hours. Bliss.
Then I saw that line in my magazine and thought, hang on a minute. I've got it all back to front!
You see, I used to run around like a whirling dervish, doing all that stuff. By the end of the day I'd be shattered and stressed, so I would reward myself with...... you guessed it.... a bucket of vino. Which would mean that I'd start the next day already below par and exhuasted. Repeat, ad infinitum.
Actually, what we should be doing is 'rewarding ourselves' in advance. We need to make sure that we are properly healthy, rested and relaxed before we can look after the rest of the world.
It's NOT an indulgence, it's actually just good common sense. It's obligatory. It's part of your job description.
It's a bit like the safety briefing on an airplane when they tell you "In the event of the oxygen levels in the cabin falling, oxygen masks will be provided. Make sure you fit your own mask before helping your child."
They know that your instinct is to help your child first, but you will be entirely useless if you can't breathe.
I know what you're thinking: It's all very well, SM, but I don't have the time or the money to look after myself.
Nonsense. How much time did you spend drinking or hungover? How much money did you spend on booze? Just take a proportion of that time and that cash, and make sure you do something good for yourself.
(See my post: The Concept of Self Care written when I was on Day 52, and badly in need of a pick me up)
On that note, I went to the gym yesterday, for the first time since the cancer thing. I spent an hour doing a full on aerobics session with ladies half my age, then came home and had a good long soak in the bath (because my muscles had seized up and I could barely walk).
There are recent studies that show that aerobic exercise is one of the most effective ways of reducing cancer recurrence rates (or avoiding cancer in the first place). So, it wasn't an indulgence - it was a way of ensuring my children have me around to help look after their children. Medicinal.
So, don't leave 'self care' to the bottom of the list, when you might be able to squeeze a bit in after doing all the other 'more important' things. Schedule it. Make it a priority. Not for you, but for everyone else in your life.
Love SM x