In the depth of winter, I have learned that within me there lay an invincible summer ~ Albert Camus
I’ve been obsessed with A Great Big World’s album When the Morning Comes, so it’s hard to pick just one song off the album. But the song that drew me to the album in the first place was ‘Won’t stop running’. No matter how much darkness we have to endure, no matter how many times we fall, no matter how tightly our hands are tied, keep going. There’s something better waiting right around the corner.
Guy Winch’s ‘Why we all need to practice emotional first aid’ is most likely my favourite Ted Talk I’ve ever watched. Guy asks, why we treat physical health and pain differently to emotional health and pain? We need to start taking care of ourselves on the inside as much as on the outside. Loneliness, fear of failure, and loss, for example, are emotions we need to start acknowledging, tuning into, and doing something about. Let’s stop brushing our emotions off like they don’t or shouldn’t mean anything.
Taking care of ourselves is highly undervalued. Perhaps we do not measure it as important against the visions we have of our future selves or perhaps we somehow perceive it as selfish and shallow. But taking care of ourselves is instrumental to anything we want out of life, because our success ultimately comes down to us, the health of our mind and body. Here are three ways to help us take better care of ourselves:
1. Take your own advice –
How many times have we given our best advice to a friend or acquaintance but blatantly ignored it when we find ourselves in the same situation? Those of us who are guilty need to stop. Why do we have different rules for ourselves? We need to start seeing ourselves as worthy of happiness, love and strength. Give yourself some credit and let yourself have the best chance.
2. Sleep well –
Getting enough sleep isn’t just a matter of recharging for the day ahead. Our energy levels have a huge impact on our susceptibility and sensitivity to negative emotions. Feelings of worry, despair, anger, stress are all heightened by exhaustion. Sleeping well keeps us more alert, grounded and positive; any degree of this can be extremely beneficial to keeping ourselves from drowning.
3. Take a day at a time –
It might seem obvious, but we have to stay present, not only so that we can get as much out of the day as we can, but also to put life into perspective. We cannot do everything in a day, so we shouldn’t even put that kind of pressure on ourselves. Our best is enough, and we need to remember that it’s okay to take a breath, to have a bad day, and to treat ourselves. Create a life that you love, not one that you find is a chore.
With the New Year about to roll round, all of us are looking for a little extra motivation in our pockets. But we need to make sure that our ideas about motivation see us through the whole year and not just January. Motivation is finding the strength to reach our potential and to help us do our best. Motivation is getting lost in inspiration, dreams and ambitions. Motivation shouldn’t be staying awake all night, every night, taking energy pills and caffeinated beverages. Motivation shouldn’t be forcing ourselves to live a life we despise, which leads nowhere. Motivation shouldn’t be stress-inducing, battling migraines and stomachaches, constantly feeling exhausted and agitated. Motivation shouldn’t be sacrificing all relaxation and leisure or blowing up all our relationships. Life works best in moderation. A part of being able to keep going is to stop and reflect, to relax and enjoy, to think and sometimes forget. There may be moments of stress, late nights and missed fun, but balance is the key. If we play it right, the New Year holds no limits.
Many of us try to be superheroes, for others and for ourselves. We are ambitious and determined, motivated and driven. But we have to make sure that our actions do not come at the cost of our own health, physically and mentally. It is easy to become overwhelmed, stressed and run-down, and, as a result, agitated, helpless and weakened. We’ve got to remember to pay attention to ourselves. We cannot always be perfect, nor should we have to be. Sometimes giving our best doesn’t mean we have to give everything. Sometimes taking the race more steadily at the beginning will reward us with a stronger finish. Sometimes we have to say no, so that we can say yes to something even bigger and better in the future. Take care of your body and take care of your mind. They make our most valuable asset: ourselves.
It is beautiful when we can trust people, when we can open up to people and we can build strong relationships with people to the point where we can’t imagine life without them. Our happiness is generally dependent on other people, friends, family, love, and even strangers or people we work with. But I think it’s also healthy to make sure that our happiness doesn’t become defined by one person, but rather a network of people, or better yet from the inside and the self. People don’t always see eye to eye and people don’t always understand one another. And that is as much a part of any relationship as the loving and enjoyable parts. It’s ok to not always see eye to eye and it’s ok to have arguments. That doesn’t mean the relationship is over or should be forgotten. But we need to make sure that we have something apart from that relationship to fall back on when that part of our life is rocky. It can simply be having a hobby, being out in the fresh air, or having a job you really love. It can be having another person such as a family member or best friend. Something else that you can also draw strength and happiness from. Ultimately, we should become comfortable to draw strength and happiness from within ourselves. We all want to believe that any relationship we have will last forever, but people change and evolve in different directions. Having other sources of happiness doesn’t mean you don’t have faith in that relationship, it just means that we can regroup and even appreciate that relationship more when we can take a step back and gain some perspective. At the same time, we can learn more about ourselves as we find sources of happiness within ourselves, that we can be content by ourselves, and this again will help us appreciate those moments with others. Finding true happiness within ourselves is what will allow us to find happiness in all aspects of our lives.