In our weekly spot where we chat about mental health and wellbeing, a few thoughts this time about looking after ourselves a bit.

Hello everyone and welcome to the chattering corner of Film Stories, where we can put our feet up and have a brew and the last of the Christmas chocolates. Even if it is just the last bounty at the bottom of the box.

Last week we took some to time to acknowledge that things are rough. And continue to be so. The start of 2021 has been derailed by events outside of our control, heading very much in the wrong direction in so many cases.

This week, let’s shift the focus a little. New Year is normally a time for reflection, for change. People commit to Couch to 5k challenges, to Dry January, to reboot themselves and their ambitions.

This year, I find myself hesitant to do this. In part, this is due to shielding for over ten months, which makes my horizons rather limited. This time last year I was merrily setting off to try new things, including art journaling in which I turned myself an unaccustomed shade of pink thanks to an incident with the glitter bottle.

The pandemic put paid to that enjoyable class, and also to my regular volunteering role. My life is currently in ‘leave of absence’ mode, a necessity for me until vaccination. I’m left wondering what my purpose in life is, as a significant birthday approaches next year and the cracks on my face widen to rival that of crazy paving.

I doubt I’m alone. Very few of us have the luxury of external support at the moment. Navel gazing isn’t always helpful. But there is a case to be made for giving yourself a quick pit stop.

What do I mean by that? Well, give yourself a break and give yourself an overhaul. Take a good long look in the mirror, and then at the stats on your smart devices. My Fitbit tells me I’ve dropped from walking a regular 12k steps a day this time last year to a measly 4k this. The scales tell me that my lockdown bulge is not my imagination.

Just as you wouldn’t omit to have your car serviced and MOT’d on an annual basis, maybe your own chassis could do with a polish. Gyms are shut, perhaps there’s a decent walk nearby? Amend that online shopping order to omit the caramel nibbles.

I’m guilty of butt lag as much an any other person. I did great, first few months of shielding. On my yoga ball daily, doing my Pilates stretches. And it really helped. But now I find my motivation is as saggy as the backside in my exercise leggings. I’ve skived off for two months. As a result, I’m finding I creak when I move. I have a yoga journal that I keep eying suspiciously. I’ve only filled in one session, then hidden it under a dead draft novel. In a drawer that is not to be opened until Armageddon.

This week, back on the big shiny ball. There are episodes of Schitt’s Creek to be watched while my muscles readjust themselves imperceptibly and my shoulders lose their perch my my earlobes. Back on the cornflakes, less of the cheese. Commit to a short walk four days a week. Nothing onerous, nothing that I can weasel out of too easily. I bought myself some decent new leggings so I don’t feel depressed by my own reflection before I even start.

Take a look under the hood – do you need to top up on medication or vitamins? For me, it’s a regular reminder to keep my salt, water and Vitamin D levels high. My doctor also advised me to add a bowl of fortified cereal to my diet four or five times a week, for iron and folate. It’s easy, and it works.

There will be some aspects of yourself that are out of your control. I’m mutating into a mid-life Rapunzel, hair streaming in the breeze from my study window, sighing as I await the nurse with the big pointy needle.  Then there is the recent debacle of my husband’s home haircut. We are both guilty for this botched barnet. Let’s just say he wouldn’t look out of place in a Rammstein video. But hey, no one is likely to see us until summer, so let’s live in mutually woeful haired bliss!

There are small adjustments we can make to help us through the day. Tiny achievements. Am I advocating giving up pleasure? Hell no. We need what we need to get us through these days. Caramel ice cream is life. Do I need quite so much? There’s the question.

When you leave your pit after your maintenance stop, whatever route you take through this year, I hope you find a good one. A road that makes you feel better, without too many potholes on the way.

If you’ve made any changes this year that are working for you, give them a shout out in the comments. Take care, and thanks as always for reading.

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