WHOEVER came up with the idea of Self-Care September is a cruel genius.
September is one of the busiest months of the year for most of us. And for many of us it is milestone month.
If we are lucky enough to have jobs, most of the staff will have had their holidays and we make plans for the autumn and there is a flurry of focused activity and commitment.
Workplaces, remote or in person, are halfway through the financial year and set new, ambitious targets and really push on to make objectives happen before the year is out. In most workplaces September can be flat to the mat month.
In homes that have children, there is the stress of purchasing uniforms and all of the gear required, which gets worse every year as the Department of Education refuses to regulate uniform prices and requirements. It is nearly as expensive as Christmas in many homes, with little additional support or recognition of the hardship.
Those homes also see September as the month for getting into the routine of early mornings, proper breakfasts and lunchboxes. Military planning is required to ensure at least three smooth mornings a week!
If we are facing education ourselves, especially in later years, it is all about getting into a whole new way of academic thinking and goal-setting, maybe even moving location. If our grown-up kids are the ones going to third-level education away from home, there is the chest-crushing hardship of a chick flying the nest. That is without the stress of student loans, maintenance grants, and fielding a bureaucracy and poverty which is gradually ensuring that only the middle classes can now afford to attend third level.
For many homes, as the nights draw in mental health issues resurface and poverty bites as fuel costs soar again. It can feel pretty lonely, while adverts about planning Christmas parties are carried all over the place and buying dinner for tonight is a challenge.
MINDFUL MOMENT: The benefits of mindfulness are scientific fact https://t.co/9CYddSRZmR— Andersonstown News (@ATownNews) September 9, 2021
And then in come the well-being gurus telling us to do some self-care. I’m lucky if I put on matching shoes, and I have to check if I brushed my hair! It is pretty challenging to read encouragements to “do self-care”.
But then I read it again and despite myself I take two minutes with a breathing exercise and I feel my shoulders drop. Yes, just breathing deeply, holding and purposefully breathing out did help that knot of anxiety in my stomach. And I find myself thinking “Bloody hippies have a point after all.”
In a whirlwind world that provides more challenge than answer, or a pandemic that has lingered and lingered, to have an encouragement to pause just for a moment for yourself, to tell yourself that you are worth your own resources, is valuable. To do it in one of the busiest months of the year at first seems incongruous but actually it probably makes more sense than it first seems.
For self-care to become meaningful it needs to be so much more than a treat – it needs to be ordinary and everyday mundane. And it needs to help us cope with stresses about us. And then self-care is no longer “me time”, it is a critical part of our toolkit for getting to October in one piece.
Sure it’s worth a go.