Neglecting Ourselves

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A few weeks ago, we all trotted off on an impromptu walk off the beaten track for a while. We surrounded ourselves with beautiful autumn colours, rolling fields in every direction, and watched the multitude of deer wandering in the woods close by. And it was glorious.

For the first time in a very long time I felt like I could breathe. We used to go for nature walks like this regularly and I hadn’t realised just how much I was craving them until we got right out on our own and allowed ourselves to simply be. Life lately has been one major stress after another and in an attempt to keep going for ourselves and each other, we had both been neglecting ourselves.

It is something that TJ has been discussing in his counselling sessions and something that we have started talking about at home too. Between working full-time, dealing with chronic health issues, and raising a very inquisitive preschooler, we haven’t really given time to nurturing our own needs. And it has taken a huge toll on us both.

I think this pattern of putting your work and family first is very common for parents in any situation and it’s something we need to be aware of. It is all too easy to think that we don’t have enough time to do anything for ourselves when life is simply one necessary task after another. And it can be easy to feel “guilty” or “selfish” for wanting to have more time for ourselves, when we’re made to believe that we should be able to “have it all” without compromising somewhere.

But compromise does have to happen sometimes, and it is really crucial to surviving the busy times in our lives. Right now we barely have a moment to ourselves and life feels like one battle after another, so we are burning out fast and it is showing in so many areas of our lives.

Which is why communication is so important for us right now. It isn’t easy. There are times we we get cross at each other, and times when we really need more than the other can give. But we are getting there.

And in the meantime, I am doing all I can to limit additional stresses that I can change. I have purposefully decided to avoid social media for a while (other than what is necessary for work) as I am aware that however easy it is to simply pick up my phone and “check in”, it is not all that healthy to do so when feeling so run down. Instead I am choosing to pick up old projects I used to have before social media took over my life!

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I can’t always get out and about, in the quiet solitude of nature, even though this is my ultimate choice of relaxation. But I can immerse myself in other solitary activities, which give me the chance to clear my mind and focus on my more creative side, which for me is the biggest tension reliever ever.

I was recently given a new sewing machine, something I have always dreamed of having (I have only ever had old, second hand machines which skipped stitches or jammed up constantly) and I plan on getting all my fabrics out and finally working on a patchwork quilt for the winter months. It will take me forever to complete, I am sure, but I am really looking forward to it.

And I have picked up my novel again. I started writing this in 2010, but it needs a huge amount of reworking and completing and I have finally found the desire to do that. Whilst that means working on the computer, it is still a world away from chatting on social media. It is quality “me time” and that is what I need right now.

It is so easy to neglect ourselves, and so hard to dig ourselves out of the pits we create in doing so. But there comes a time when you hit rock bottom and know that this is what you need to do for your own well-being and sanity. That’s where I am now and that’s why I am doing to all I can to change this, so I can cope with the challenges of life with more resilience and ease.

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