Looking after yourself

We have a lovely friend staying with us at the moment. He’s a wonderful person – extremely caring, generous, kind-hearted, fun, and interesting to talk with. Yet he’s currently unable to see any of that in himself – he’s suffering from depression. Years of stress in a job where politics and targets were everything and individuals mattered little (if at all) have taken their toll and he’s really struggling. He will feel better again – depression is an illness, and will pass like any other when it’s run its course and he’s given himself the care and tlc he needs.

This friend isn’t the only person we know who is having a really tough time at the moment. I personally know four other people struggling with depression and four others with chronic fatigue syndrome or something similar.

Some of this ill health could be put down to bad luck. But we are far more able to take charge of our own health than we always realise.

I know, from personal experience of depression, that the illness can be caused as much by the way we choose to run our lives as from ‘bad luck’ or external factors. When I was unwell with depression, in my late teens, it was mainly due to the high expectations I had of myself and the way I pushed myself when I needed to rest. In an odd way, I’m grateful for the depression – not only does it help me empathise with others who struggle with the illness, but also it gave me a much-needed ‘wake up call’ to remind me to take care of myself. I have not had depression since.

We humans are the most amazing machines. Yet we fail to look after them at our peril. Even our cars have regular MOTs and services to keep them performing well and to put right anything wrong. Don’t we deserve at least as good treatment as that?

And our bodies are even fantastic at giving us signals when something’s wrong – we feel poorly or tired, we aren’t able to focus or concentrate properly, our emotions run high, or we don’t sleep well. But do we listen?

If you want to maintain good health, you have to start listening to your body and what it’s telling you. If it needs rest, adjust things so you can give it rest. If it’s feeling unwell, it’s in need of some tlc. If you can’t concentrate, your emotions run away with you or you don’t sleep well, work out what the problem is and do something about it to change things. And it you can’t, find someone who can help you work out what the problem is and how to overcome it.

Let me know if you think I may be able to help (call 0115 925 2552 or email me at [email protected]).

This is your life – be well and enjoy it!

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