Having recently experienced extensive health issues, I have started to realise how important taking care of yourself is. The cliche rings true: Health is the greatest gift. Treasure it.
It is all too easy to overlook self-love and taking a bit of ‘you’ time. We are all so caught up in our own insular bubbles, getting consumed by the pressures of daily life, which are often exaggerated through stress and the feeling of never having enough hours in the day. We are quick to dismiss troubles with ‘I’ll be fine, it’s just…’. We are all too guilty of neglecting the need to pause and think about ourselves, importantly our health, constantly falsely justifying that ‘I’ve got too much work, I’ll do it later”. The excuses are endless.
I was in the dark for a long time regarding what was causing my health issues. It seemed like my body was physically failing me yet my emotions were running on over-drive. I have just been officially diagnosed (5 months later) with Post Traumatic Hypopituitarism. I won’t bore you with the biological details but in short, due to a head injury I suffered over a year ago, my pituitary gland doesn’t function properly. This gland is the central operating station for the majority of your hormones, and other chemicals crucial to your body’s functioning – something about which I had no idea. The fact it wasn’t working meant my hormones were all over the place, countless scarily low. This had numerous knock on effects, and saw me constantly exhausted, cold, thirsty, with low blood sugar, emotionally unstable and experiencing unexplained weight loss. The change in my physical appearance meant that people could see something was wrong, but lots didn’t want to openly discuss the fact that I had lost weight, as not to hurt my feelings. Many presumed I had an eating disorder and felt it was completely out-of-bounds, not wanting to approach this social taboo (a totally separate subject worthy of its own article). In hindsight I should have talked things through with them, and although I wasn’t sure what was wrong myself, I would have liked to be more open from the beginning.
There is now light at the end of tunnel. I have learnt so much about myself from this experience, and my only regret is not realising sooner how important self-love and self-care are, and acting on it. I have a fresh, more positive outlook on life, and have definitely learnt to be more forgiving of myself.
Things I learnt about self-love:
- Recognise when you are pushing yourself too much, when you are ill or fatigued. Listen to your body: it more often than not knows best. There is no point in fighting against it.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Mistakes and set-backs are normal, healthy even.
- Sleep is golden (and not just an excuse to lie in).
- Find some ‘you’ time, and do something you can’t normally justify time-wise. It doesn’t have to be big, just something small that makes you happy. Like taking a bath or getting your nails painted.
- Make sure you have breaks from working, pause and step back from daily pressures. It is easy to get engulfed in what you are doing, and lose sight of the bigger picture. What are you working for or towards? Make sure you are enjoying life in the present.
- Worrying just wastes energy. Quit now.
I found the first term at university really hard this year, so I’ve made it a point this term to have fun. Yes, work is important, but balance is even more important! I am trying to have at least one day off from work a week and do something fun, or treat myself. Funnily enough, I am not finding this very hard; treating myself is a skill of mine. I am also gradually starting to play hockey again, and although I am not at the standard I was, I am loving it. Just being properly part of the team again is amazing, and I am so thankful for their support.
Another really important thing I have learnt is that although looking after yourself is an ‘individual’ thing, the value and influence of friends and family is unrivalled. I really couldn’t have done this without their support. I am blessed: they don’t even know how special they are.
After reading this, it is now the perfect time to go and treat yourself. You don’t need a reason. The fact that it will make you happy is reason enough.