You will probably already know that I have started running a new mental fitness programme. I’m very excited about it and more and more people are booking on which is wonderful.
As I’m speaking to people who are wanting to take charge of their mental health and learn the tools, strategies and techniques that will improve their mental fitness, there is one common barrier that people keep coming up against.
This is that some people are continually putting other people’s thoughts, health and wellbeing in front of their own. Now this may be their partner, their work and career, or maybe even friends. This could be in the form of a partner who they feel they need to support, a boss they feel they can’t say no to, or purely because they want to fit in with their friendship group.
Let’s take a look at this more closely…
As you are struggling with feelings of anxiety, worry or stress, that naturally stretches out to those you care most deeply for. Consequently even though you are stressed and worried, you deny yourself the time, help and input needed to clear your mind and restore your body to health.
You keep (for want of a better phrase) ploughing on, making sure you get through all the things you think you ‘need’ to do. However, by doing this it increases your stress levels, you feel more anxious, or feel anxiety in concentrated bursts, and you slowly but surely get worn down to the point of exhaustion.
If you have experienced anxiety while being exhausted, you’ll recognise this is not a pleasant place to be.
In your mind you think that this means you are doing what’s ‘best’ for the family, career or friendship group.
In reality, quite the opposite is true.
As an analogy, think about a group of 5 people, one of which is you. You each have a cup that is filled to the top with water.
We all know that everyone needs water, so at regular and consistent intervals everyone will take a small slurp of their water to keep them going. Each day everyone goes down to the well and gets a fresh cup of water. You can only carry one cup each.
Something happens to two other members in the group, which means they will now struggle to get down to the well and get more water. Oh dear. Now what to do? What are some of your options?
- You could ignore the other two, just go and get your own water, drink it yourself, and let the others figure out their struggles by themselves.
- You could go and fill your cup up, come back, give the other two almost half a cup each to keep them well hydrated, leaving you with only a few drops left over. Not to mention the tiredness from the walk.
- You could go down to the well, bring some water back, and equally share it amongst the three of you. This means you each get some, you each have your needs met, and you can all continue to live and work.
- You could get your cup of water, give it all away, and watch the others while they drink and stay healthy, while you get more and increasingly tired and thirsty.
Which of the above options do you think you would do?
Well, when it comes to water and needing to survive, most people with pick option 3, where everyone’s needs get met.
However when we apply this to the problem of anxiety. I am amazed at how many people are choosing option 2 or even option 4. In the sense that they are giving everything they have away and leaving themselves with nothing left over. Which means they inevitably slowly but surely become more fatigued and struggling. Eventually reaching a crisis point where action has to be taken.
What I would like to encourage you to realise is that in order to look after those around you, you need to be in good shape yourself. If you have people relying on you, you are actually helping them out in the long term by looking after yourself.
Self-care is just a fancier way of saying ‘looking after yourself’. This could be in the shape of taking some set time for yourself to relax, to create some time where you can do something you enjoy. It could even be as simple as half an hour in the evening to take a relaxing bath.
If however you yourself are struggling with anxiety and have someone who relies on you. Then it is up to you to get the help you need. No-one will take this action for you. By investing in yourself, and gettting yourself in a clear state of mind, you can not only look after yourself better, but you can also look after those around you better too.
Just a thought 😉