Life needn’t be a chore. Be kind to yourself

Uncategorized Nov 15, 2018

This week, I have found myself completely floored by a nasty bout of tonsillitis. I barely moved off the sofa for four whole days. For those of you who know me well, you’ll know this is a feat in and of itself!

I don’t do lazy.

I don’t often stop.

I squeeze as much as I can into this one little life because there is so much to achieve and so much to learn and so much of this big beautiful world to see…and this week, my world did stop spinning just for a time so that my body had a chance to rest and catch up.

So, it’s been a time of reflection.

I received a gift through the post from a friend – a book by Austin Kleon called “Show your work” and I read it in less than a day. The last time I read a whole book in one day was when I bought Harry Potter and The Cursed Child (and incidentally, I was off sick then too!).

This time and space to think and reflect has been interesting to observe. So many thoughts and feelings of guilt have come flooding to the surface, threatening to pull me under the current. “You haven’t got time to be ill!”, “You are being so lazy – get off your butt and at least do some writing!”, “You’re falling behind schedule and you’ll never catch up!” – these are just a few of the fleeting thoughts that have consumed me.

And then there was these: “You know, you really should do this more often – how nice has it been to really relax and wind down?”, “Look at how much you’ve learned just today alone! Think what you could learn if you carved out more time for reading!”, “So this is what being kind to yourself looks like?!"

It occurred to me that everything comes down to choice, in the end. This week, I could have chosen to listen to the first voice that scolded me for being lazy – a voice that some good friends of mine call “the sh*t talker”. The lovely Marie Forleo describes this voice as “a whiny little b*tch” compared with the balanced voice of reason that comes from our intuition.

The second voice that encouraged me to take more time out for myself was, I believe, my intuition speaking up. Clamouring to be heard amongst the din that I fill my life with, this quiet whisper became a clear bell ringing out each time the sh*t talker tried to bring me down. And I also believe this was only possible because I was forced to stop. To slow down and quieten down just enough to start hearing. To start listening.

It was World Kindness Day this week (13 November), and I had intended to write a post on practicing self-kindness and modelling that practice for your patients. But instead I feel compelled to just talk about being kind to yourself and whatever that means for YOU, whoever you are reading this.

Regardless of what role you play in life, whether a mother, father, sister, brother, health professional, teacher, office worker, firefighter – however you spend your days, I want to encourage you to think about what you do to show kindness to yourself.

The first time I was introduced to this concept of practicing self-kindness was not long after I’d finished my PhD and my mental health was rapidly plummeting so my husband suggested I go see a counsellor. In my initial consultation, the lady (whose name I can’t remember) asked me, “And what do you do for YOU?”. I was stumped. What DID I do for me? I had no idea.

Her parting words to me that day were, “Be kind to yourself. Go and do something that nourishes your soul. Feed the ducks. Walk in nature. Anything that makes you feel at peace.”

This was nearly ten years ago. I personally believe that we will keep seeing the same issues cropping up time and again until we eventually learn the lesson that we’re meant to be learning from these issues. Clearly, I haven’t learned my lesson well enough or I wouldn’t be finding myself writing this now!

And so, I have a call to action for all my readers, whoever you are, and however you spend your days. I want you to choose ONE thing that you will do differently this week as a result of reading this post. What one small act of self-kindness will you instigate (or reinstate)?

For me, I’m going to switch my phone off after dinner so that my time with my family is quality time, and I’m going to take myself off to bed half an hour earlier and read a book before I go to sleep.

Life needn’t be a chore. Why do we make it so?

Parting thoughts 

As you know, for the month of November I’m taking part in Cancer Research UK’s #VegPledge challenge and going vegetarian for a month. If anyone else is doing it I’d love to hear how you’re getting on! Tag me in your posts on social media (@essentialcancereducation on Facebook and Instagram, @mhairimorris on Twitter, and Mhairi (“Vari”) Morris on LinkedIn) and use the hashtag: #VegPledge.

One more thing!

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