When you ask people how they are, they usually say one of the following:

“Oh you know, the usual. Busy!”

“Stressed, busy.”

“Busy, busy.”

Sometimes they will say fine and not mean it.

Comedian and mental health campaigner, Ruby Wax recently tweeted “When did we get so competitive about being busy? Are we worried that we have no value unless we are being pulled and pushing in twenty directions?”

It’s a good question and leads me onto the subject of self-care. People dismiss it because they haven’t got time for it, they’re far too busy being busy. But we all have time, or we should have, because self-care isn’t selfish, or something to be ashamed of, it’s essential to our physical and mental wellbeing.

Self-care is all about being aware of what’s good for us and incorporating more of it into our lives, whether it’s staying away from the pressures of social media for a bit, reading in bed before 9pm, taking a relaxing bath, dancing in your kitchen or spending more time with the lovely people in your life rather than sweating over your work inbox. Taking time out for a bit of self-care should be something you factor into your everyday life. You have a shower every day to keep clean, so why not take another five or ten minutes out of your day and do something to keep you happy? And it doesn’t have to be something big, unless you want it to be of course. It’s often the simplest things that bring us the most happiness and make us feel better about the world. It could be putting your favourite music on really loudly, pottering about in the garden and not achieving very much, taking a short walk on a beautiful morning or learning how to knit a bikini.

Mindfulness is another great way to practice self-care. I don’t mean the whole kit and caboodle of breathing and meditation, which is fine for some, but if you are anything like me you find it a bit overwhelming and difficult, I mean a few minutes appreciating the here and now. Mindfulness can be as simple as sitting on a park bench and taking a moment to enjoy your surroundings. Notice the colours and the sound of the wind, how the clouds change shape or the birds look for food, and before you know it you have practiced mindfulness and given your mind and body a moment they will thank you for.

Just doing something that takes you away from the everyday chores and the have to do’s will give your mind and body a break. If you listen carefully you might even hear the audible sigh it makes in relief.

But this is all well and good, I hear you say. Some of us really don’t have time.  Looking after and being a carer for someone can often mean that self-care is way down on the list of priorities, but even the act of reaching out and asking for help, or communicating to someone that you need a bit of time for you can be a step in the right direction. Letting go of the guilt is another thing. You are precious too and so is your health and wellbeing. Acknowledging that and saying it to yourself or to others can be a hard thing to do, but be brave.

Incorporating a few me moments into your week will make you more resilient and able to cope with everything else. It won’t solve all of your problems, or change your life dramatically, but it will make a difference to how you feel.

And spoiler alert…

The world will not end if you are not busy.

You are not a bad person if you take a moment to enjoy something you don’t have to do.

So let’s make it our New Year resolutions to make a tiny bit of time for nothing much.

Jules Stanbridge