Life right now is challenging and yes, ever so slightly dull. The freedoms we previously took for granted feel a long way off but as the crocuses and daffodils emerge, the days get a little longer and the vaccination programme picks up pace, there are reasons to feel hopeful.
One way of keeping positive is to practise a bit of self-care. It’s critical to our emotional and mental wellbeing and has been shown to have measurable benefits on our physical health too, including lower anxiety and stress levels, a strengthened immune system and reduced blood pressure – and who doesn’t want those?
Of course, where there’s a good idea there’s an industry to sell it to you – and this one is worth $11 billion. But we don’t need yoga with goats, self-improvement courses or an app to keep reminding us to do 10,000 steps a day to make us feel better.
As with many good ideas, this one was practised by the ancient Greeks, who called it philautia - ‘love for self’. Self-care means whatever you want it to mean. It’s not about conforming to someone else’s idea of what’s enjoyable or ‘worthy’: do what makes you happy. Perhaps it’s going offline for a few hours and allowing your mind to recalibrate or digging over the vegetable bed ready for spring. Maybe it’s walking in the rain and smelling the wet earth or lighting that candle you were saving for ‘best’. Perhaps it’s baking, painting, singing or reading. Maybe it’s walking with a friend - or by yourself. The point is that self-care doesn’t have to cost a thing – just the determination to carve out some time for yourself.
As we continue to show our love for others, let’s not forget ourselves in the process.