You gotta nourish to flourish

I had an email from a reader asking me whether I could expand on something that Mrs. Berry and I touched on in this weeks episode of The Hot Flush.

I’m sure you have probably done so many times, but as I listened to your last episode on The Hot Flush and you mentioned about not feeling guilty and doing things for you that are good for your mental health,  I was wondering if you would write or podcast about this more, was this something you had to learn? Do you get any push back from your family?  Was it hard to do at first? You know just something to encourage people like me, to dig deep and stand up for what I need.

My personal motto, and one that I like to encourage others to adopt is “If I don’t work, nothing around me will work…” I know that this makes me sound a bit ego-centric and “up myself” but it is the truth of the matter. Like many women, I am the Lynch pin in my family. Without me, things can quickly go to hell in a hand basket. I am the social director, the nutritionist, the therapist, the unqualified GP, the financial advisor, the keeper of the secrets THE EVERYTHING!

So if you transport all of my duties into a corporate arena I should be paid, like you, a billion dollars a year.

I would also get a very generous leave package. And I take that leave package very seriously.

Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly overwhelmed, I might take a weekend off. Go away with some of the girls and refill my cup, returning back to “work” with fresh eyes.

This guilt that you speak of is so so so so prevalent in what us chicks are trying to do, which is to raise decent humans and trying to be a fully paid up functioning adult in a ridiculous, fast pace life. Guilt and anxiety are like BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, they love each other so much they fully pash out the back of the bike shed. And because we constantly compare our lives with others, we are never going to be fulfilled with what we have got.

Stop it.

I prioritise my mental health just above my need for Wagon Wheels.

What I know I need is to eliminate as many stress triggers as possible. Toxic friendships, GONE. Negative thoughts, try as they may I tend to send them on their way. When the kids start fighting, I remove myself from the room. I say no to things that I don’t want to do.

Was this something you had to learn?

Sadly I learnt it the hard way. About ten years ago I had a pretty significant breakdown due to the fact that I was trying so hard to be perfect that I couldn’t see straight. Scrubbing the bathroom at 10pm, I was your girl! I was very tightly wound and eventually BOING! I stopped comparing myself to others and lowered my standards a lot. The truth is that no-one was noticing the shiny tiles. Now if there are no pubes on the bathroom floor, I am happy.

Do you get any push back from your family?

The hardest thing I have ever done is marriage. It is something that so many people take for granted. 100 years ago if you got to the age of 55, you were doing great! Nowadays we like to hang around for a few more decades. Marriage is about love, friendship, companionship but it is also a lot about compromise. Meeting halfway on a whole heap of issues.

Communication is the most utmost sharpest implement in your relationship tool belt. Try to banish sulking from your persona. Use your big words.

“Would you be upset if I gave your work function a miss?” Give and take and repeat x 1000.

Was it hard to do at first?

No it wasn’t hard. It was necessary. Generally speaking we all do far too much. We are obsessed with being busy. People seem proud when they rattle off their schedule. Sometimes trying to catch up with someone for a coffee has to be scheduled six weeks out. It is fucking ridiculous.

You know just something to encourage people like me, to dig deep and stand up for what I need.

Ok, so first up get your partner to read this blog post. Your mental health is your priority. If you are running at 100%, life becomes far more pleasant and much more fun. Then lower your standards by 20% in all areas of your life. Near enough IS good enough and you will not be arrested for giving your kids nuggets for dinner.

Then go to your calendar and schedule in ME TIME. You actually have to block out time to do this. We have conditioned ourselves to be busy or be guilty. If it is in the calendar, IT IS THE RULE!

Get some things organised just for you to look forward to. It can be as simple as “At 4pm today, I am going to sit down with my book and a cup of tea for an hour.” 

Learn to say no. Without the guilt.

It is all about balance. Sometimes life is hectic and you cannot control what is going on, so when there is a lull, grab it.

I am not an expert on any of this, I am just a work in progress. Just like all of us.

How do you look after yourself?