I am not really one for New Year’s resolutions and who can stand the thought of the ‘New Year, New You’ articles filling my social media feeds. It is no surprise that one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. However, the NHS calculates that only one in ten of us sticks to our resolutions.
Although, there are some things I like about the New Year. It is a fresh start. A blank page just waiting to be written and that is the analogy that excites me. The opportunity to look forward. 2016 is over, it is in the past. It is all about 2017 and a time to press the reset button. So perhaps the New Year is about setting smaller, achievable goals. Because, when we try to change our lifestyles too radically, many of us fail.
On 2nd January 2017, I put my trainers on. I have signed up for a half marathon on 2nd April, so what better time to kick-start the New Year than with a run, or let’s call it a gentle jog (cough, cough…fast walk). Although this will be my fourth half marathon, I haven’t been for a run for a while and I knew this one may hurt. I will be honest, although I looked the part; the first mile was the worst. My chest felt tight and I was short of breath, just like I was back up in the Austrian Alps. I breathed heavily as I sucked in air to my lungs to disperse to my legs. I pushed my heels in, I gritted my teeth and dug deeper. Strangely, the longer I ran, the easier it became.
As I eventually found my stride, I took a moment to enjoy my surroundings. The roads were quiet and the trees were still. It was a bank holiday and there was no-one around. The houses were quiet and I smiled to myself as I thought of the children tearing around inside. As I plodded, I thought about how I didn’t want to reflect on last year and perhaps what I had achieved, I just wanted to go forwards and press the reset button.
This gentle run made me realise just how important a little ‘me time’ was. Of course, as Guilty Mother herself, I felt terribly guilty for about the first ten minutes. Thinking I needed to hurry up, to get back in time. I visualised my children, who were probably wrestling in the kitchen again and my husband would be trying to break up the fight. But, I didn’t need to rush. My husband even told me not to rush. So I slowed down and tried to actually enjoy my run.
Six miles later it hit me that you can’t underestimate the importance of a little ‘me time’. I was reading on The Pool website a quote that stated how a recent study found that the average woman gets just 17 minutes a day to herself. 17 minutes. Really? So that begs the question, why do we feel so guilty about taking leisure time? Perhaps we just get so stuck in a rut from the work commute, the social gatherings, sleep, eat, repeat, we are almost too exhausted to even contemplate a little ‘me time’. The most many of us can just about manage is simply a 17-minute bath. Am I right?
Sometimes it is so easy to forget that taking care of ourselves is as important as taking care of our children. The connection between physical and mental health are so important. I was pleased to hear in the news recently, Prime Minister, Theresa May stated that mental health had been “dangerously disregarded” as secondary to physical health and changing that would go “right to the heart of our humanity”. And so, although I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions, I will just promise myself to take a little more self-care, whatever form that comes in. Hydrating, sleeping sufficiently, running and some little relaxation rituals that work for me.
So I’m trying hard to ditch the guilt and gently remind myself that taking care of ourselves keeps us from burning out, which makes us a better partner, parent, child and friend.
And word of warning, don’t go up the gym. It’s rammed. But don’t worry, it will be empty again in a month, or most likely… 17th January, the date dubbed “Ditch your New Year’s Resolutions Day”