I recently attending a talk by the mental health charity MIND. It was a fascinating talk in general and I’ll continue to share bits of advice on here and via my Facebook and Twitter accounts. But it was this bit of advice that really stayed with me: “Responding to mental health is like being on a plane – you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others.”
This is a great metaphor, and means the same thing as ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. So often we give all our energy to ensuring that the people around us are ok. We worry about our friends, family, partners, children, even pets, and when we’re so busy checking that our network are doing ok it’s easy to forget to check in with ourselves. And that’s when we run the risk of burning out.
What a difference a sunny weekend can make! It suddenly seems appropriate to drink prosecco and eat ice cream in the early hours of the afternoon. There’s a glorious waft of BBQs around every corner and every open space is filled with people soaking up the first rays of the year. Everyone seems so much happier when the sun is shining. And it’s the perfect time for a bit of reflection.
When the sun is out we allow ourselves to stop. If we take an hour on a weekend to just sit on the sofa, we feel like we’ve wasted time and are behaving like a slob. But, take yourself out into the garden or local park and no-one would ever think you lazy for spending some quality time sitting on the grass enjoying the weather. Maybe it’s because we never know how long the warm weather will last so we think we must make the most of it! Whatever it is that makes it more ‘acceptable’ to stop when the sun comes out, I’m all for it.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a few less pounds in the bank and a few more on your belly than you did at the start of December. You’ll be craving your chocolate fix by 10am but cannot bear to see a mince pie again for at least another 10 months. You’ll wish you could click your fingers and have all the Christmas decorations packed away, and you’ll be confused at how you can still feel tired, even after so much time off work.
It’s a cold, gloomy and typically moist (sorry, damp, for those with a strange hatred for the ‘m’ word) month, and the next bank holiday is so far away it’s not even a dot on the horizon. So, what next? You could make a list of grand New Year’s resolutions, which according to Dr Richard Wiseman and his research team you’re only 12% likely to achieve. You could channel your inner Eeyore and mope around for the next 27 days. You could ban yourself from drinking anything containing a percentage…. ooooor instead of Dry Jan, you could try My Jan!
And I don’t actually mean mine, I mean yours. A whole month dedicated to what makes your heart happy. What might that look like?