Self Love September is all about loving ourselves, and so far we have focused on learning to love our bodies. As was said previously, this was because the weight-loss industry is currently doubling down on its efforts to make us feel like we need their help to make our bodies acceptable for summer. All this is complete rubbish, our bodies are already totally fine for summer, whatever they look like.
Self love isn’t always just about loving our bodies, though, it is also about looking after our minds and caring for our mental health. I’ll admit, I can be pretty lousy at looking out for my mental health. Nowadays I am pretty good at making sure that I am looking after and nourishing my body but I have to admit that I am awfully prone to putting my mental health on the back burner. I recently found myself saying to a friend that I was tired, anxious and exhausted, but that I always felt that way. Which I later realised was probably a pretty irresponsible way to think about my mental health.
A few years ago I went though a really rough period of depression and anxiety, the culmination of which was waking up one morning and realising that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, couldn’t get through a day without complete despair, couldn’t see a way out of the fog that I found myself in. I was incredibly fortunate to have some truly incredible mates who saw where I was and helped me out, getting me out of bed and making sure I ate, helping me organise professional help and generally keeping an eye on me.
What I ended up unpacking was that, for the most part, I just hadn’t been taking care of myself. I hadn’t been doing a great job of looking after my body, and I had more or less completely neglected my mental health. That year in particular was a bit of a doozy for a number of reasons but it was really hammered home to me that I needed to take more time to look out for myself. Now, years later, I still tend to find myself getting lost in the busyness of life and letting my mental health fall by the wayside. Eventually, though, I always end up getting awfully close to burning out, every now and again tipping over the edge into a dark place it is pretty hard to claw my way out of.
Recently I have been trying to make an effort to think of my mental health in a kind of oxygen mask scenario; I have to take care of myself before I am of any use to anyone else. If I’m in a terrible headspace, everything else suffers. So much as I sometimes find it difficult, I am learning to make time for myself a much higher priority than I used to.
That said, sometimes it can be tricky working out what ‘time for yourself’ actually involves. Something I have found amazing is joining a gym and doing gym classes (endorphin high is great for particularly depressed days), but that isn’t a solution that is going to work for everyone. Sometimes just taking a morning to sleep in is something I desperately need. Sometimes it’s something as little as taking a couple of hours to just read a book.
To be honest, it is going to be different for everyone, but figuring out that thing that rejuvenates your soul and trying to make the time to do it can make a world of difference. It can take a bit of figuring out, but if you’re feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted, it is worth going through a bit of work figuring out what makes your soul relax and rejuvenate. Go sit by the lake and read a book, bake a cake, eat said cake, train to run a marathon, take a bath! There are endless possibilities, but find that little thing you can take an hour to do just for yourself, and then try make time for it each week. Because self love should cover all aspects of our life.