Are you one of those people who has to attack every challenge? Who sees life as a series of tasks to be completed? Me too. The other day, my friend Jo of the Mad and Sad Club was talking about her breakdown and subsequent anxiety, and one of her symptoms, she said, had been that she saw everything as 'life admin', when it was just life. This resonated with me, and if you're reading this post, it may resonate with you too. I recognised myself in her words.
A few days prior to this, I had decided that I was going to look after myself more. It's a simple thing, but it has been a revelation for me. I did not attack this promise with everything I had - I have not banned sugar or gone on an exercising rampage (my usual tactics), I have not found some new weird diet, or bought a ton of healthy eating recipe books I will never read. Instead, what I have done, is promised myself I will eat my five a day and drink enough water. I have also started an exercise regime that only takes up half an hour in the morning, using the free videos from Fitness Blender. I have been gentle on myself. I forgave myself yesterday for eating two biscuits and a piece of brownie, because every other day I have managed my goals, so it was okay. To be honest, I don't even want to talk about this in terms of goals, it's just an idea: to look after my body as it gets older, to get healthier in a gentler sort of way.
In order to accomplish this, I simply decided what fruit and veg I liked, and made sure I had enough of it to snack on. I decided that I would eat an orange a day and go from there. I know that you should eat more green stuff than I have, I have spent half my lie researching health and health fads in an effort to achieve the 'perfect' body quickly, so I know that green is better. But I have forgiven myself for doing this imperfectly. Maybe later I'll try and incorporate more greens, for now I want to eat honeydew melon and red peppers.
In general this has linked in with a sudden movement of mine. A shift. Perhaps I have been moving this way for so long (it has been 2.5 years since my own breakdown) that I have been subconsciously changing my neural pathways. I have no idea, what I know is that I like it. I like the idea of minimalism, of living simply, of decluttering, of more headspace, of looking after myself gently and living slowly, and as a result of all of this living more sustainably.
Naturally, Howell Illustration has begun to shift with me. I want to help others, I want to let others know that they don't have to beat themselves up all of the time, for any perceived 'failure'. That perfection is fiction and imperfection is a fact that we should slow down and just, simply, live with and enjoy. Something I find just as hard as others, as you will, probably, but maybe if you can make one small change to look after yourself gently, it will start something new.