Spring cleaning: Make time for you
The New Year is looming: a time for New Year’s Resolutions and clearing out the old to make way for the new. It’s the time of year when we reflect on how the last year has been and what we hope the next one will look like.
The home can be a ‘living metaphor’ for our mental health: when the house looks good, we feel good too, and like we’re keeping on top of everything. But when the dirty clothes start piling up or the washing-up is taking over the kitchen, it can sometimes be a sign that we’re feeling over-stretched and run-down. In the same way that housework falls to the bottom of the to-do list, so can taking time to look after ourselves: our lives are so busy or stressful, and there are too many other things that need to get done because they are more urgent or important or necessary at the time. This brings to mind the feeling of ‘just keeping your head above water’.
Why is it that looking after ‘you’ is so often thought to be unimportant? Or so much less important than everything else that you need to do or other people you need to look after? Only you can truly know the answer or answers to that, but one common reason is that the value we place on ourselves can be very small in comparison to what we expect of ourselves and what we feel others expect of us. It can be very difficult to justify taking an hour out to have an afternoon nap or a take a walk in the fresh air when you have a list of things to get done.
Counselling can be a useful starting point in making time for you. For one hour a week, that is your time to focus on your thoughts, feelings and experiences and really focus on yourself for a change rather than everything and everyone else. Taking time for yourself in this way can increase your feelings of self-worth because you are doing something to take care of your needs (which can be easily confused with being selfish because it feels so alien to what you’re used to). There are lots of things in life that are beyond your control, but this can be a step towards feeling a little bit more like your life is your own. To use the home as an example once more: if the washing-up doesn’t get done it’s not because it’s just one thing too many to deal with - it’s because you have chosen not to do it.
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About Laura Hughes
Laura Hughes is a person-centred counsellor working with adults in Worcestershire. She is an Individual Member of the BACP.