It would be easy to assume that living in the Highlands of Scotland, I’d be an expert at what people might call ‘slow living’. Surrounded by open countryside, big skies and beaches that go on forever, I should be that quintessential free-range Mummy staring out onto the horizon and holding steaming mugs of hot sweet tea. The truth is, that whatever my photographs and blog posts might indicate, I’m not really that good at slowed-down living. That photo of a sunrise you saw was probably me walking my dog at the crack of dawn because my kids were ill. That scenic view I posted? Could well have been snapped on a rush between the supermarket, the school run and the Wednesday afternoon swimming lesson dash. Living in a remote location doesn’t really mean you’re any better at taking things slowly – it just means you go about your business with less traffic and fewer people. Like many others, I push myself to do ALL THE THINGS before I let myself relax.
Over the last few months I’ve realised this approach to life isn’t really working, brought mainly into focus by a steady deterioration in my health. About a year ago I became ill with bacterial pneumonia, followed by a worsening of the symptoms of autoimmune thyroiditis and a host of other issues that left me feeling in pain and exhausted. I went from climbing Munros at weekends, to feeling breathless taking my dog out for a walk. Feeling under the weather almost daily became normality, and over the last nine months I’ve looked back enviously at the way I used to be. I now smile knowingly at the quote that says good health is a crown seen only by unwell people. It’s very true that most people don’t appreciate what they’ve got until it’s gone.
Anyway, I’m not here to depress people. And if you saw me out and about you’d probably think that I was fine. I’ve taken lots of steps to try to improve things by making changes to my diet and taking supplements to bolster my immune system. In time I’ll get there.
But before all that, there is another step that has to come from me.
It’s something I touched on a few months ago in a post I wrote called Saying No To Perfect and what it boils down to I suppose, is being a little kinder to yourself. Taking time to read books, have a bath, ditch social media occasionally or have a nap if you really need one – these days I’ve realised that being set constantly to GO doesn’t do you any favours in the long term. It might sometimes mean you can’t keep up with all the other busy people, but at the end of the day, it’s okay to say ‘I can’t keep up’. The things that might have once seemed like indulgences become necessities. If reading books or taking baths isn’t your jam in life, it’s time to find something else that is.
Find ways to be a little kinder to yourself – your body will thank you for it if you do. For now, I’ve decided my kids don’t need to go to 101 out-of-school clubs for their physical and emotional wellbeing – they need a Mum who doesn’t want to go to bed every Friday afternoon at 330pm. I’ve realised it doesn’t matter if the school bags get unpacked or the pile of notes get sorted as soon as they arrive home. As long as they are ready for the next day then that’s going to be good enough.
Do the things that really matter as well as you can do them – for most people I imagine that’s family, work or the things in life that bring them joy. For all the other stuff ‘good enough’ just has to be sufficient. And remember, kindness extends not just to others, but to yourself aswell.
In a few weeks we are going away on holiday, and rather than rushing around trying to see anything and everything, we plan to spend a lot of time just lazing around beside the pool. I’m learning, though, not just to keep these slowed-down moments for a far-off holiday at some point in the distance – I’m learning to build little pockets of rest into my daily life.
It’s called being kind to yourself, self care, and knowing that you are good enough – because of course, that’s exactly what you are.
Take my advice and try it out as soon as possible.
What will you do today to show yourself you care?