The door clicked shut behind me and I turned the key to lock it. The weight of the day gradually slipping away as I wind my way through the streets and alleyways of town, effectively the arteries of a coastal town with the countryside being the sea. And I’m heading to the beach.
It’s early evening, and has been an average day working from home with its usual frustrations and I need to get out for some space to myself. I’m not a sit-in-front-of-the-TV kind of bloke, hence the name of this blog, so my me time is usually outdoors. If day-to-day life is a clattering goods train, these moments are my buffers. Sometimes I have company, though it is not important. I will head out for a walk or a run, or workout regardless, as it is me looking after me. I have lived with me for long enough now to know what I need for myself to stay on track and how only I can be the driving force behind that, no one else. If you live your life to others’ standards, you are probably selling yourself short. Accountability. Be responsible for your successes and failures.
I’ve been in relationships before where after a period of niceness, eyes would begin to roll as I laced up my trainers for an evening run. Seemingly, keeping me indoors and watching me descend into misery for selfish reasons is preferable to me coming back as a better version of me in order to continue to provide humour, advice and support.
So I arrive on that clattering goods train at the station of the point I’m trying to make. Being selfish is creeping out of the door to do something ultimately destructive, despite passionate pleas. It is not selfish to take time for yourself away from life, people, situations or anything that causes you stress for the ultimate goal of health and happiness for both you and those around you. Fact. It is more valid and important than ever during the Coronavirus pandemic with mental health seemingly high on the agenda. Becoming selfish for an hour or so every day could be the difference.
Stay positive. Don’t delay your own well being.
I was half tempted this week to temporarily change the title of my blog to My Indoor Living Room, but realised that this is a nightmare to do, and also that the indoor living room is exactly what I’m trying to escape. I read a very interesting post on social media by one of the few famous people I take seriously enough to respect, and he talked about making choices during lockdown as well as life in general, choosing to do what you should do as opposed to what you feel like doing. So, think of the dilemma of setting your alarm for a 5am run. Then the alarm goes off and the urge to hit snooze is overwhelming. He used a phrase about choosing to meditate than to contaminate his mind with nonsense from social media, the internet in general, and this blog of course. Just read to the end of this post though, and I promise there’ll be a meme of a cat. It made me think about what I’m doing during all this to cope, so I wanted to share a few things that are keeping me going. There have been some incredibly tough moments, mainly to do with my situation and my mental health has taken a few beatings in the past month, so I naturally do what I have trained myself to do – I make an island of myself. I find activities for me to do to keep my head above water. A well known saying that goes something like, “A drowning man cannot save another man from drowning”, dispelling theories of selfish behaviour to a degree. So in order to be all that I can be for others, I need to take care of myself for a while. The world seems to spin fine without me, and most people seem just as happy with me out of the way, so I just focus on finding a place within myself.
One way I do this is setting myself small challenges. Right at this moment in time, I have (mostly physical) challenges going on like seeing how fast I can sprint up a hill I’ve found. Or seeing if I can complete a song doing push ups throughout, seeing if I can complete different fitness tests, and also seeing how low I can get my resting heart rate. I’m also closely monitoring the progress of an oak tree sapling in the garden, and the speed of the decomposition of my compost heap. It’s safe to say I’m busy with lots of things. But lots of little things help me stay on track and stay occupied.
Whilst lockdown has presented problems as well as opportunities to improve areas of my life, I have generally fared better than the daily grind of commuting and stultifying office environments. It’s made me seriously think about my future, the people I work for (and question their ethics), and showed me hope that something alternative exists.
I do hope that you are all well and coping. I also hope that when we come out of this, all of the promises about the future and regrets about the past that I am seeing on social media are followed through and are not just empty hashtags. This really is an opportunity.