Self-Care Neglect

As I write this blog post, I’ve been trying to think of a suitable word to sum up how I’ve been feeling during the last couple of months. All I can think of is… ‘meh’. A pretty nondescript word, but sums up how I’ve been feeling.

Life has been a little bit all over the place, as has my self care.

Why is it that when we need self care the most we choose to abandon it?

If one or two things aren’t going well, I just about manage to maintain my self care regime. But when multiple things start to go wrong, my self care, for want of a better word, goes tits up.

In a way the toughest hurdle has been reached. By recognising I’ve been neglecting myself and my self care, it’s time to make some adjustments and to fix this asap.

So, here is my grand plan, which will hopefully help me to stride over this little hurdle:

To start looking after my physical well-being again

The last couple of months have been a bit naff for a number of reasons. One of which was a little health scare. Following a particularly bad UTI and kidney infection, I found myself being referred to Chelsea & Westminster hospital for further tests. Little did I know at the time, but I had in fact been referred to a bladder cancer consultant. Thankfully the consultant was quick to put my mind at rest and confirmed that bladder cancer was highly unlikely for someone my age. But I guess I’ve never been one to do things by the book, so despite her reassuring words, I still knew it had to be a possibility. Further tests and a scan later, I received the good news last week that they have found diddly squat wrong with me, and I have now been discharged (although I still won’t believe it I don’t think until I receive the final letter from the hospital discharging me).

In a moment of panic, as soon as I received the referral, I stopped exercising. I was so worried that exercise would make my ‘condition’ worse, that I gave up running, and even stopped using my weights at home. I did carry on walking, but aside from that I went from regular exercise to nothing.

And my god, is my body craving exercise now. I’m easing myself back into thing slowly, conscious that my body is now a little out of practice. I started off last week with a few weights at home, and made it out for my first jog of the autumn on Wednesday evening. I already feel so much better for doing even this small amount of exercise. I certainly feel more energised.

My next challenge is, not only to maintain my exercise regime, but to also start eating healthier again. I had started to get into a much healthier eating pattern, but when your going through stressful times, it’s so easy to slip back into big portions and craving unhealthy foods. My weak point is chocolate, but as long as I limit my treats to the weekends (and keeping them in moderation), fingers crossed I’ll start art to feel healthier again soon.

To improve my mental well-being

Since life has been all over the place, I feel as though I’ve lost my sparkle. It’s been hard to understand why, especially when I have so much to be grateful for. But the mind works in mysterious ways sometimes.

One thing I can’t ignore is the powerful craving I’m getting for meditation.

Isn’t it funny how some things in life we crave, we’ve never actually done before? Take my trip to India this coming Christmas for example. The urge to go was so powerful, it was all I could think about. The same is happening right now with regards to meditation.

I have dabbled with it over the last year or so, and even downloaded the free version of the Headspace app. I worked my way through the free meditations, but have been reluctant to spend out on the yearly subscription.

One weekend in July, my parents came down to visit for the weekend. My folks love a coffee stop, and I had been keen to try a new coffee house in a Clapham. So off we headed to Common. On a quick visit to the rest room, I came across a flyer for The Mindful Cafe. The Mindful Cafe was advertised as a free monthly workshop where you could meet other like minded members of the community and to develop your own mindfulness. Since moving to London 4 years ago, I hadn’t really put myself out there in order to meet new people, and I was keen to improve that. In addition, that familiar craving had got me again. Something told me I just had to sign up to attend the next workshop which would take place at the end of July. I’ve now been to 2 sessions, with my 3rd coming up next week. Although it was slightly strange meditating in a group to begin with, I soon switched off from thinking about everybody else and focused on me and my own experience.

Not only are the workshops helping my mental well-being, they are also helping me to meet other likeminded people who live in a my part of town. It’s a good feeling.

Meditating once a month however, is struggling to satisfy my cravings. This month, I intend to bite the bullet and subscribe to the full version of the Headspace app. Then all I need to do is to find 10 minutes a day where I can focus on my mental well-being, and to start satisfying this new craving.

Improve my work/life balance

Yet again, I recently found work taking over my life. An easy habit to get into when you live alone, especially when you decide to spend an extra hour in the evening or at the weekend checking your emails…and 3 hours later, you’re still staring at your screen.

I also have a habit of burying my head into work when life gets stressful.

My job can be quite demanding at the best of times, spending hours in meetings during the daytime and the evening, leaving little time to respond to emails and do any sort of planning. And god forbid if I should actually want some sort of social life…

All of this has been leaving me feeling pretty burnt out, and resenting my job because it’s stopping me from doing the things I want to do. Not only that, but it’s had a knock on effect on my mental and physical well-being.

Something needed to change.

I desperately needed to find a way of juggling my emails, meetings and other work stresses, and to stop bringing work home with me, in order to ensure that I have some time to myself, an opportunity to have a social life, and to hopefully, fall back in love with my job.

After talking this through with my CEO a couple of weeks ago, he suggested that I schedule an hour at the end of the working day to focus on my emails (which seems to be the area that is most out of control), leaving me with the daytime to plan, work on projects and to attend meetings. Although it may mean continuing to work past 5pm, if I was strict on myself, I could still be home by 7pm, and would have the rest of the evening as my own, leaving me with time to cook, exercise, meditate, blog, and to even perhaps get myself out there to make some friends…

It’s early days, but so far so good. My inbox is back under control (for now), and my evenings are starting to look like my own again.

Whilst there will always be the odd week night meeting I need to attend, by managing my time carefully throughout the rest of the week, hopefully, fingers crossed, I will at least get some of my weekends and evenings back…

There’s lots of work to do in order to ensure I maintain my self care regime, my me time, and to get my sparkle back. But I’m hopeful that with a good pinch of perseverance (and a letter from the hospital), I will be back to my old self in no time at all.