The Wasted Years: Looking after my Wellbeing

It’s been a while since since I last wrote a blog post and I’m guilt-ridden. I’ve not only neglected my blog but I’ve neglected me. I started this blog not with the intention of an audience but to retain my connection to writing. I hated the fact that a few months ago (pre-blog) I couldn’t remember the last time I had written. I was starting to forget how good it felt, how cathartic it could be and I wanted that back.

Looking back now I hate to think how much time I’ve wasted not looking after myself. The pressure I’ve put on myself to conform, to socialize, to do things I didn’t want to do. The time I haven’t used to better myself, my health, my overall wellbeing. We all know that exercise, creativity, hobbies, the list goes on, can help us. So why don’t we do it? I wish I had an answer. I’m as guilty as anyone for those wasted years…..but it’s never too late to change.

Having always hated sport, making numerous excuses to get out of P.E. class, I had decided by my teenage years that exercise was not for me. Running for the bus was about as close to exercise as I came. In hindsight, it seems I may have written it off prematurely. It turns out I just needed to find the exercise for me. There was a time I could never imagine going to the gym. Gym membership seemed an easy way to burn a hole in my pocket. Now I go twice a week for a few hours. If I miss a class I don’t feel guilty, I feel suffocated. My body craves the stretch and the sweat that only a good workout can bring. Who’d have thought?

Given the introduction to this blog, you have probably realised I like to write, or rant. As mentioned, I started this blog to retain a link to my writing. Often this feels like a chore, more and more I’m slacking and feel guilty for neglecting it. Yet, on occasion I write something which releases something inside me. I feel a knot unraveling. In that moment writing has done something for me. It’s given breath to thoughts or feelings. Ideas stuck inside of me which were begging for freedom. It gives me a voice. So that’s why I do it, why I keep doing it; even if it’s only sporadic. I’ve experienced first-hand what writing can do for me.

Of course, there are often times I don’t know what to say. Not only that, I don’t have the words. (This may be a surprise for those of you who know me well). For those times, there’s music. I’ve always had an affinity for poetry and lyrics. They speak to me. They give me the words when my voice fails me. As Hans Christian Andersen wrote

when words fail, music speaks”

Sometimes they say things I hadn’t realised I felt. Music helps me feel. Above and beyond that it can give me permission to feel. It let’s me know that what I’m feeling is real and that I’m not the only one to feel this way. That’s some powerful stuff right there, at my fingertips, with a touch of a button.

These are just a few things I do to look after myself. Working in mental health I spend half my time encouraging people to find things that work for them and build them into their schedule. It occurred to me that I should probably follow my own advice and I’d like to encourage you to do the same.

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