Bed. Arguably the greatest place on earth, outside of a hot tub. The dry/wet version of the other. And then, there's lie ins - who doesn't love them!? They're amazing. As an early waker I don't indulge too often but catch it right, when everything is soft and warm, and they're magic. It's actually part of our deeper instincts to love bed; on the whole we're safe, we're warm, food and the water nearby, v. little risk involved - the brain/nervous system are reassured, it's a cave man dream.
That said, lie-ins can also form a sneaky part of procrastination and avoidance - as we edge toward that un-prepared festering creature who's just not ready to start the day. They're also not wholly supported by the 'get up and go' mentally that many associate with achievements and success - debatable, but there we go. But, finding that balance can be conflicting; too much go, not enough sleep = bad or enough sleep but risk feeling you're falling behind = Ugh. So, I'm going to explore a little on how we can find the balance for ourselves. This isn't just about lie ins, it can relate to our work outs, inner dialogue, eating habits and even our relationships - this is about give and take, incorporating discipline and focus alongside self love and self care.
As a lover of early mornings, I enjoy the productivity they bring; it's fresh and good lord, you've got a head start on the day. As someone who's ambitious, has things they want to create and truly loves to put ideas into action; getting up and getting on is part of my self love. Don't get me wrong, the bubble bath, face mask and red wine side of self care has me PUMPED; but I have passions and plans that I yearn to see come to fruition. So I've had to learn when my body and brain sometimes needs to tap out and recharge.
In August 2017, I was diagnosed with ADHD and while it's something I'll no doubt cover in more detail in the future, I'll stop short on that and say, crucially, this diagnosis was part and parcel of a longer journey of self care and how to better work with my body; something I am eternally grateful to myself for investing the time and energy in.
It's my personal approach to mental wellbeing to understand a balance of brain chemistry and acknowledging my feelings; I see the human body as incredible organic matter with a delicate balance of hormones, cells and nerves alongside who I am as a person. So while for many, ADHD is seen as a simple 'excess of energy'/ 'lack of focus', I dive deeper into the underlying grey matter causes, separate it from "who I am" and learn how I can support my body. Interestingly, research suggests ADHD revolves around a lack of dopamine (the "happy" hormone) production in the brain which becomes incredibly important to acknowledge if you want to find the chemical/emotional balance. Of course, ADHD is a broad and intense subject, and I'm not getting into it now, only that this is what I have found to be the most effective understanding for me.
Given the understanding that my brain naturally has lower dopamine, I now seek to support a more consistent state of mind to avoid further lowering my precious resources, so reflect this in my behaviours; I only drink alcohol occasionally, I exercise, I balance my diet. I also seek rest in other ways: meditation, nature and down time. None of these changes happened over night, or none of which I never see a blip in, but through working with my brains state, I'm able to be aware of what else may impact it. If I'm feeling low, I check in with how much whisky I drank the night before or whether I made it to the gym that morning and while it won't always be the whole reason I feel a certain way, it could be a contributing 20%.
Sleep plays a huge part in this. An extended lack of it can be damaging to our hormones and our brains - it's widely known to increase stress and irritability alongside causing problems for our biology, brain and overall mood. Largely, the same can be said for an excess of sugar, poor eating habits, too much pressure, lack of exercise, ignoring our wellbeing or unhealthy relationships. So when it comes to a lie in, sometimes we're just gonna need it.
Putting ourselves in a position to help ourselves is a question of self love. When we love ourselves, we love our bodies for their valuable life and health; covering self care to self fulfilment, nurturing as well as pursuing our hearts desires. I believe human beings inherently do what they feel will serve them best, not as close to "selfishness" as it sounds, but more that we are all operating in the best knowledge that we have at that time; for example when we learn that giving feels good, we give more. So when it comes to self love, when we want and learn to do better for ourselves and recognise that life/our mood/our situation will improve in turn, we adjust to that. And this isn't a flawless, "a-ha, I have arrived" and then we're set for life, self love is a journey, a behaviour and one that requires autonomy, self awareness and discipline.
So, revisiting these precious lie ins, I know when I need them, because I've put in the work to recognise a certain type of eye ache or brain fog means I've pushed it too far; that extra sleep will help me be more productive later on. Just the same, I largely know when I'm only playing myself with excuses. Self love for me has come to include setting goals, getting enough sleep and a dedicated skincare routine. My wellbeing needs both focused productivity and slow day self lovin'. I'm smart, I'm ambitious but I'm also a human being who has needs, there's no way to ignore that. When it comes to any act of self care, finding that balance is centred around what works for you; asking yourself honest questions and being true to that.
Our time, health and love are our most precious resources, so whether our life goals are to cure cancer, run for Prime Minister, live in pursuit of pleasure or become a professional bed tester, finding a way to honour and best use these wonderful gifts is the greatest act of self love there is.
Here are a couple of questions you may like to ponder on your own journey balancing self care:
- What are your opinions of self care? Do you feel somethings are necessary or just a bit 'weak'?
- What are the ways in which you like to "give" to yourself? How do you currently take care of yourself?
- What areas of your life do you like to focus on? What are your motivations behind them?
- When a low mood strikes, what do you feel could be contributing factors outside of the actual situation (which is still valid by the way)? For example, Hormones/ 3 day hangover/ lack of sleep. What could you do to help those factors?
- Think about what you'd like to achieve for this week, what will help support that goal?
- Keep a diary for the week, note what you do, eat and drink alongside what times you keep for the day and how you feel in the following 24 hours. Can you see a pattern?