A recent trip to the doctor left me with a surprising and thought provoking diagnosis: “…don’t forget to make some time for self care.”
Don’t get me wrong, I showed up showered and dressed with clean hair and brushed teeth. However, with a little probing from the doctor, a few gaps started to show.
“When was your last cervical check?”. I shrugged, “five, maybe six years ago”.
“Have you had this uneven mole on your chest checked?” I clear my throat: “I was meant to have it out, but I’m waiting to finish breast feeding”.
The reminder was kind, but firm: “you need to look after yourself, to be around to look after others”.
The doctor was concerned enough to get me referred immediately to the Royal Marsden Rapid Diagnostics Centre. When I googled it to find the postcode, I saw, in clear terms: “The Rapid Diagnostic Centre is designed for patients with suspected cancer…”.
As I roamed the hospital, running late to my appointment, my annoyance at the traffic on the way and the queues to get registered as a patient (after paying a hefty up-front deposit), melted and gave way to fear and gratitude in equal measure.
There’s nothing like hurrying past rooms labelled ‘Chemotherapy’, and numerous waiting rooms filled with patients, flanked by stoic friends and relatives, to put decisions about your health, and feelings regarding everyday nuisances, back into perspective.
It did turn out to be benign, but I couldn’t believe how stupid I’d been to put off having the problematic mole removed because I was “busy” and “it would leave a scar”.
I watched a clip saying if you want to feel better about things, start every day by making your bed. I dismissed this as silly, but I’ve come to value it as excellent advice. No matter what goes on to happen in your day, you’ve achieved something productive and feel better getting into bed that night, than if you hadn’t.
Self-care is more than keeping up-to-date with important health MOT’s, or taking days off for luxurious pampering at the spa. I’ve realised how many of the little things that I could do – for no reason other than to make myself feel good – had been sacrificed on the alter of being too busy with ‘the important things’ and how, in reality, they go hand-in-hand.
I now blow dry and wear my hair down, because it makes me feel more confident. I keep up with the laundry, so my favourite outfits are clean and folded when I want to look good. I pick all the toys up when my son is napping, so I feel like it’s my house too, etc.
I’ve reframed pointless, waste-of-time chores and indulgences in my mind. I make a little more time to do things just for me and I feel so much better for it.