A little while ago I got on the scales and realised that in the past three months I've put on half a stone. That bothered me not from a vanity point of view – although I admit that my chubbier chin and the fact that my clothes don't look or feel the same as they used to isn't the nicest of things – but because of the bigger picture of what that really means.
My skin has been increasingly bad of late, I have nowhere near as much energy as I'm used to and I've been ratty and agitated more often in recent months than I care to report. And it's not only within myself that I've noticed those changes; my house has been a mess, I haven't been writing as much and mine and Kali's lovely long walks have been largely replaced by quick marches around the park.
What's going on? I guess the simple answer is life, and more prominently work. Over the last few months my day job has become busier and busier meaning longer hours in the office and less energy away from that. What energy I have had has been devoted to some other important things in my life; the people around me, my other work, and just generally keeping going from day to day.
Amongst all of that one thing seems to have been forgotten above everything else; me.
Of course I'm not alone in that, it's something that many of us do – especially women. I've lost track of the number of friends, family members, colleagues and counselling clients over the years who've told me "I've just been so busy looking after everyone else that I haven't had time to look after myself". But in reality, how can we ever take care of anyone else unless we ourselves are being looked after?
I recently read a beautiful quote which to me says it all;
"I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival"
– Audre Lorde
Given the last few months it's something I feel like I should print out and stick on my wall… and by my desk… and in my car… and, well, you get the gist!
As we work through our lives each of us have any number of important jobs to do; not just the ones that we're paid for but those that are even more special than that; as friends, parents, partners, siblings, campaigners, carers, teachers, helpers and many other things.
To the outsider each one of those jobs, and indeed each of us as people, may seem very different but the one thing that each of them has in common is that we can't do any of them well unless we have been looking after ourselves and are fit and well.
To me one of the most insane things about our current way of life is the amount of guilt so many of us feel for looking after, or even spoiling, ourselves. Don't we deserve time, love, care and attention just as much as any of the other people, animals or things in our lives that we strive so hard to take care of?
My little moment of truth on the scales has given me just the kick up the (slightly more rounded) backside I needed to remember that and to start giving a little more TLC to myself and so I encourage you to do the same.
Have an early night, do something you love, take the time to prepare a beautiful healthy meal – even if it is "just" for yourself, give yourself the attention that you would expect from someone who loves and cares about you and watch not only how much happier and healthier you become, but how much all of those other people and things that you care about start to flourish as a result.