Many of us have a lot to be grateful for. A secure job, people who care about us, somewhere to call home at the end of each day. When others don’t have so much, we can feel guilty for wanting more. But if it’s possible for us to live even more fulfilled lives, why wouldn’t we? If we’re only going to be on this crazy planet once, why would we not strive to make the most of it? What is the point in settling for existing, when we could be living?
I’ve been there. On paper my life was great and I was grateful for my lot. But there was just something inside me that wasn’t satisfied. I went to bed each night disappointed with what I’d achieved and woke up already dissatisfied with how my day was going to turn out. I let everything external to me decide the kind of day I was going to have and was then surprised it hadn’t turned out better. I knew, if I wasn’t careful, the fire in my belly that I called drive was going to go out for good.
Now I wasn’t quite around in the summer of ’69 but when I was a child the summers certainly seemed to last forever and I do fondly look back on them as the best days of my life. So whilst on the packed and sweaty tube this morning on the way to work, I got to wondering what it was about childhood summers that made them so great and so stress free.
Here are a few ways to reclaim those happy days to make more of the summer of ’17 (not quite so catchy!).
The school uniform
As a 30-something, one of the stresses of summer is the colourful, skin-bearing, accessorised, never ending wardrobe that we (and the magazines) expect us to own. Summer mornings are therefore spent surrounded by mountains of unsuitable outfits as we scorn the sunshine and declare for the 3rd time that week “I have nothing to wear!” As a primary school child, that was never a problem. That little checked summer dress or grey shorts and polo shirt were thrown on, accessorised with a dashing pair of bright white socks and, if you were a girl, and a really lucky one at that, a pair of those patent Clarke’s shoes with the keyhole in the sole.
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.