Some of us might wake up to a heap of cards on Valentine’s Day but this time of year doesn’t only have to be about romantic love. We can use it to reflect on all of the love we have in our lives, to be grateful for what we have and to make changes to bring in more.
Some of us will find love through their faith, a source of comfort and strength. Others will find love through their family and partner. With more than half of people in the UK living away from the place they grew up, many of us build our own communities, a self-made family of friends to share happy times and to support each other through the lows.
So, what about the loves in our lives? The people who lift our souls and activities that ignite our passion? Those are the ones we want to nurture. It took me until middle-age to recognise that evenings out should always be looked forward to, not a chore to tick off the list. We may agree to keep doing things we’re not comfortable with any more, holding on to people who we’ve lost a connection with, friends who have values no longer aligned to our own, or still meeting up with people who are not that nice to us but we’ve known them for years.
Time is precious so it’s worth considering who you give yours to.
What about me?
It’s so easy to get caught up in work and the day-to-day of domestic life to think that we don’t have time for our hobbies or favourite activities. Are you really giving time to your own passions? If you’re not sure what they are or where your true north lies, then think about what makes you light up when you’re talking to a friend. That’s where you need to start. Have a look for a group you can join, book a membership or make time to read about your favourite subject. It’s these things that give our lives meaning and make us happy, and that really is important.
Caring for ourselves
We hear a lot about self-care but what does that mean? At its most basic, it’s making sure we’re fed, washed and have shelter, but just because we have those things doesn’t mean we’re selfish to want to take time for ourselves. If we don’t do the things we enjoy and make sure we recharge when we need to, we’re no use to anyone. Only being a support to others can leave us burnt out and resentful and can lead to depression.
Just say No
I was once told that saying ‘no’ was the kindest thing I could do for my family. If I didn’t think enough of myself, then at least I could do it for them so I would be there for them feeling strong and capable, not over-functioning and stressed. That turned things around for me. Of course, there are times in our lives when we have to put ourselves to the back. But if you find that you are swimming in commitments, particularly those which benefit others more than you, then it could be time to re-evaluate.
What can I do?
Oxford CBT has a really great list of suggestions of self-care activities so have a look for inspiration.
Here’s a list of my favourite things to do:
- writing (I would talk all the time otherwise as my brain is very active so it helps to get things out!)
- taking my dog for a walk
- having a dance to some old rave tunes (no one is watching, thank God!)
- something crafty – I did a cross-stitch kit for hubby and in lockdown knitted the dog a blanket
- a trip to water – be that a lake, river, the coast or local canal
- a cosy Saturday night with candles, latest Netflix series and posh soft drink
- spending time with my family
- meeting at a cafe for a chat with one of my friends
In the warmer months I’m happy to sit in my back garden and watch the plants and birds and insects. Nature is a wonderful cure-all.
Please share in the comments self-care tips that work for you.
Time to Talk
February 3rd is Time to Talk Day with brilliant mental health charity Mind. The day is about creating supportive communities by having conversations with family, friends, or colleagues about mental health.
We’re committed to a mentally healthy workplace and it’s rooted in our training. As a work from home team, we make sure we catch up at least once a day. Those chats are important, fostering trust and inclusion so that any problems are dealt with as they crop up, not left to be dealt with alone where they may fester and become unmanageable. In those meetings we can talk through our work, and stuff we’re facing at home, to support and help one another.
I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day, however you may spend it. And, as Jerry Springer would say, take care of yourself and of each other.