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Saying no to a book club helped me to recognise the value in self-care

Just before lockdown, I joined a book club.

I was keen to read different things and try new books I wouldn’t have chosen myself. The first few reads went well, I really enjoyed them and the discussions about them in our virtual catch ups. Then a book was chosen that I began to read, having only read a few pages, I put it down. The subject matter was too raw and difficult for me and at that point I realised that my mental health probably wasn’t as strong as it had been. The impact of lockdown was starting to show, and I felt that to carry on reading the book would be detrimental to me and my wellbeing.

Whilst I was sad not to be able to take part in the discussions about it, I felt chuffed that I had looked after myself and care for my mental wellbeing had taken priority over my fear of missing out. I realised that in ’normal ‘ life, I very rarely did that. The following month it was the same. The subject of the book was too close to home as some family members were going through some serious health issues at the time. Again I withdrew.

What I decided to do was actively seek out programmes and books that would lift me up, improve my wellbeing and I found some amazing ones. First recommendation was Queer Eye. 5 experts in their field go in to transform the life of someone who needs their help. Every aspect of the programme is focused on kindness, love and a can-do spirit. It's amazing and uplifting and shows us what can happen when we come from a place of support and lifting up instead of putting down. (Series 4 Episode 5 On Golden Kenny is our absolute favourite, if you're interested).

Escape to the Chateau was another one recommended to me. No badness or meanness, just sheer family joy. @Clare Portman also recommended The Rescue, a true story of what happened when a young football team got trapped in a cave, and how the world came together to save them. It was stressful to watch, but the dedication and determination of all involved to save the lives of people they didn’t even know was incredible.

What I realised was, that if I wanted to look after those around me, I needed to look after myself first. I often quote the safety advice given on planes, to managers - in the event of an emergency you have to put your own life mask on before helping those around you. Tough, but as a parent and a manager, you do need to do that.

You can't help anyone else if you aren't in a strong enough state to do so.

If you do one thing: make sure you look after yourself. You can then offer the kindness and support needed to help others.

We’d also love to hear about your ‘feel good’ remedies. What lifts you up and reminds you of all the positives going on in the world?


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