I’ve slipped into a cycle of waking up, telling myself today will be a good day, having a shit day and then berating myself for not having the good day I wanted. You may recognise this as something you do every now and again, or every day. This kind of mindset is damaging because it causes us to attack ourselves for not being perfect, when the truth is that no one is.
We live in a world that is photoshopped, edited and manipulated to make us feel that we’re not doing our best or trying hard enough. Behind the filters, celebrities are just people that have been shaped like Play-Doh by publicists and the media to appear to be super-humans. These demi-god like creatures have no apparent flaws and we are left in awe of them, wishing we could be just like them. But their public images are not real, instead they exist in a reality based on a suspension of disbelief.
When our lives don’t measure up to this false reality, we start to attack ourselves, believing our bodies aren’t good enough, our careers are moving fast enough or that we are missing something in our lives to make us truly happy.
You are never going to achieve perfection, because it doesn’t exist. Happiness can happen even if every part of your life doesn’t match up to what you see on Instagram or in the Daily Fail. You can be happy if you have stretch marks, if you have a disability, if you don’t have a job that pays a six-figure salary, if you’re single, and if you have kids or if you don’t.
The trick is self care. This means taking care of our minds and bodies, and carving out time in our busy lives to look after ourselves. Today, I woke up and realised that I couldn’t face going to work because I am having a bad mental health day. I realised that I needed to take some time out for myself and focus on boosting my mood. So far, this has involved eating a good breakfast and sitting on the sofa in my pjs watching Law and Order.
I’m not chastising myself for needing this time, which is what I would have done a few years ago. I used to be incredibly cruel to myself, critiquing everything I did and telling my reflection that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough or smart enough. Those days are gone, but bad habits creep back in when I’m feeling low. These habits push me back into negative cycles: wake up, tell myself today will be a good day, having a shit day and then berating myself for not having the good day I wanted.
The difference between now and a few years ago is that I recognise these cycles of negativity as damaging to my health and I take the time out I need to reset and get back to feeling like the happy, confident woman I am. There’s no shame in feeling like shit and you should never feel guilty about investing time in your own mental or physical wellbeing.