It’s 7:38am. I have been en route back to Uni now for almost two hours and despite the lack of sleep and the impending day of lectures, supervisions and meetings, I feel monumentally more settled than I did 24 hours ago. Just spending one night back at home to recharge has given me a renewed lease of life and without sounding like too much of a cliche, has got me pondering that god-awful phrase ‘self love.
With the fast pace of life, I often find myself staring blearily at my email inbox as requests pile in. My eyes have been conditioned to dart across to my phone every time the screen lights up with a notification and to refresh my inbox every five minutes….just in case I’m needed. Like the majority of us, I’m addicted to constant connection. Unlike even a decade ago, we are now all constantly available for advice, work or an opinion. We are expected to always be on tap to the will of others because, why not? No-one forced that phone into your hand, right?
Now, I know your retort. If it bothers you, set your boundaries. Tell people that you will only be answering emails between a certain time and turn off your notifications so that you are only aware of group chats when you choose. Easy, right? WRONG! The whole point is that in the present society we live and work in constant connection is not only expected, it’s necessary. For somebody carving out a career, the excuse that you weren’t on your phone is not only unlikely but could land you with dire consequences. For instance, missing a career changing meeting because of your failure to be quick off your messages or even failing to make it to an important event because you didn’t see it being tweeted about. Not to mention, as a milennial, is there any point in hiring you if you aren’t social media literate?
To observe the issues with this way of living, I need look no further than myself. Fuelled predominantly by a coffee drip and frazzled by a deep rooted need to feel in control… it can sometimes take me as little as ten minutes after waking up to feel the urge to curl up in a ball and fall back to sleep. However, in the past few weeks I have made some important changes that have made dealing with the general stress of life slightly more bearable and nicely links us all the way back to that catchy little motto – ‘self love.’
When people think of self love, it could be anything from candle lit bubble baths and a good book to buying yourself a new top in the ZARA sale or even just watching TV. Practically speaking, there is no way any of us could ever totally remove stressful technology from our lives. It would be a pointless exercise that would probably do more harm than good. Therefore there has to be a trade off somewhere in an attempt to preserve mental stability! Personally, I have categorised my three most important factors into sleep, food and perspective. Sleep and food are pretty self explanatory but by prioritising my health and getting enough sleep, eating decent food and taking my vitamins every day (yes I know I’m lame, but I’m not ill which in my books is a frikkin miracle) my general well being is far beyond what it was last year and instead of getting fomo for opting to stay in on nights out I wasn’t feeling up for, I instead have had a way better time on the nights out I’m actually excited for. Basically, a spoonful of common sense this year has gone a long way.
Perspective goes hand in hand with this and is basically the act of asking the simple question, ‘does this really matter?’ Not in a cynical, existentialist way, but in a realistic manner. If you are really struggling with your workload and could do with an extension, go ask for that extension. If you need to sleep and recover from that lingering cold, get your ass to bed! We are all humans not robots and treating yourself like a machine does no good in the long term. At the end of the day, you are of more use to everyone when in a state of (at least) mild calm and productivity.
So, moral of the story… don’t be afraid to take time for yourself. Self love can be as small an act as simply checking in with yourself and making sure you are in the best place you can be!