I FIND myself this week reflecting on how autumn is often a time for renewal and for reconnection.

With dark nights drawing in, many of us think back to our childhoods, when the fires were lit and we lay listening to the quiet crackle of the embers; the tea and toast before bedtime that somehow tasted better than any we can make today; or the gentle suggestion of celebrations to come when our families and friends will reconnect. Those memories flood in when the first fire is lit in my house and they are as warm as the logs that burn in the little stove.

At a time when we are so overwhelmed with the worries of global and domestic disorder, it is a good time to reconnect in with those calming and sustaining feelings. There is so much out of our control – whether it is the Legacy legislation, the horror of Gaza, the savage cuts to services and healthcare – that it might feel too difficult to search for peace of mind. But it is essential. For all of us. How else can we ensure we can offer support to those who need us in our families or friend groups, if we are only relying on fear, sadness or anger? After all of these decades on this little planet I have surely discovered that our own resources are not enough to face the slings and arrows of unfair life events. I have found that it is only by embarking on our own journeys of self-reflection, facing our own insecurities, doubts and worries, with the love of family, friends and wonderful colleagues, that we can together face into whatever storm that comes.

Self-reflection is never easy. My cosy memories of autumn evenings can be tempered with some imperfect memories too. My branch of the Murphys was certainly not the Waltons, but then whose is? But within that, love did dwell. Being purposeful about happiness creates much more positivity than focusing on negatives. Care and warmth are my overriding memories and I know that co-creating that in our home is key not only to decent Sunday dinners and preparations for Christmas, but my own wellbeing and physical and mental health. That is my lesson to myself. I know for others jumping into a lake or climbing a mountain does the trick. 

But something about the nights drawing in and the leaves falling around us gives us the imperative not to put off investing in ourselves until tomorrow. That investment will always pay a dividend personally and within our families. 

There is much written about the mental health crisis facing our community. Good people are working day and night to support the vulnerable. And the learning is that so much of what contributes to wellness is free. Taking a walk; chatting with friends who genuinely care for us; removing ourselves from toxic, gossipy environments; taking breaks from the social media of chaos and despair; cleaning a constantly messy drawer; potting a plant. It is amazing what purposeful intention for wellbeing can do for us. And for our family around us. 

It is possible to care deeply about the external, while caring for and indeed prioritising ourselves and those closest to us. In fact, it’s essential. So go buy that pumpkin candle, draw a bath and snuggle deeply. We all deserve it.