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  • Writer's pictureJohn Carlow

Looking After Number One

You look in the mirror one day and the once carefree face that used to look back at you doesn't seem to be there anymore. Your face looks rounder; your skin looks grey instead of pink. There's hair in places you'd prefer there wasn’t. You can't seem to smile that easily anymore...

What happened?

Maybe you skipped a few too many workouts; You took the lift instead of the stairs; You ate a few too many takeaways; Had a few too many late nights; Maybe, you drank a bit too much, a bit too often; Maybe you smoke, or you can't remember the last time you didn't buy your lunch instead of making it yourself...

You stopped looking after number one.

"Hold on" you say... "Surely I've been looking after number one a bit too well."

No, quite the opposite. You've been neglecting yourself.

Just like our parents, and their parents, we were taught that our careers and our families were the most important things in our lives, but we work longer hours than previous generations, enjoy less time off and worst of all we get paid less, and have to spend more on housing and food. While we're at work we feel guilty for not spending enough time at home with our families and when we're home they hungrily eat up all the time we have left and we try not to resent it. We're always tired and there never seem to be enough hours in the day....

Add to this a new dimension: Nowadays we're also constantly on show as social media means we're under constant pressure to appear successful and happy. Don't forget to plaster that insane grin over your face when you take that selfie! Is it any wonder you're stressed and letting yourself go?

You stopped looking after number one.

For many people self-indulgence has become the only respite from the grind. A drink or a visit to the chippy has become a substitute for therapy... a form of hedonistic self-medication instead of something that we genuinely enjoy. We are addicted to junk food, booze and our smartphones...

The only way out is to break the cycle and put yourself first for a change, and start looking after number one...

You could start by developing a self care routine, give yourself back some of the time you regularly commit to others, be it work or family or your social life. Take an hour a day for yourself where you can ignore demands on your time, or half an hour if that's all you can spare, but use it to do things that are important to you.

You could take a long bath, get your hair done, go to a gym class, read that book that's been collecting dust since last Christmas, but most importantly, you need to learn to treat yourself as you wish other people would treat you, the way you treat the people you care about: as a genuine priority and not a secondary consideration. You matter. You're the only you you will ever have... Look after number one.

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