Having trained as a journalist, I used to have this innate need to check the news several times a day. If I was in the car, I would have the radio on, or if I was at home, I would constantly check news websites to see what was going on in the world.
However, during the first lockdown of 2020, the relentless barrage of bad news started to get me down. We were bombarded with awful story after awful story, whether it was to do with the pandemic or not, and I felt that it was affecting me mentally in not a very nice way.
If I was to make it through the pandemic with my usual optimistic outlook in tact, something had to change, and so I made a conscious decision to stop watching or reading the news. I began to crave something more positive, and this was one of the motivations behind setting up my Facebook page, Picture That Walk, where people could share uplifting photographs that they had taken on their walks and bike rides during lockdown. Two and half years down the line, the page is still going strong, and people continue to share their excellent photos, with members declaring that it gives them that daily mood lift that some of us need.
As Covid began to become an every day part of our lives, I thought that perhaps I would go back to watching the news again. But it continues to be a relentless stream of depressing stories so I am not keen to immerse myself in it as I did before. I don’t want to expose myself so much negativity, day after day, because I don’t think it is healthy to do so. Some might say that I am burying my head in the sand, avoiding those issues that really I should care about, but, quite frankly, I just don’t want to. I have enough stress to contend with in my everyday domestic life that to absorb the troubles of the rest of the world has become too much. So once a day, to ensure I am not totally oblivious to what’s happening out there, I will catch up on the main events. But that’s it (Of course, I still get my fabulous weekly newspaper!).
This past weekend, I was delighted that I was able to do something that was completely and utterly joyous. I attended a wedding! It was wonderful to be able to look forward to something to celebrate, something that wasn’t difficult, or hard, or sad, something that brought us all together to join in a pleasurable occasion. It was the wedding of a dear friend that was supposed to have happened in 2020, but for obvious reasons was postponed. It was quite special to see so many people brought together for a good reason, many of whom appreciated the opportunity to visit this little oasis of joy in an otherwise difficult world.
The wedding was held mostly outdoors, which was an achievement in early October in Yorkshire! We did have to head into a marquee when a heavy shower turned up, so the vows were exchanged under canvas, but once the rain stopped, the sun came out and it stayed clear for the rest of the day. As the sun went down, the stars came out, and it was one of the most perfect of evenings. We were out in the countryside, so there was no light pollution to disrupt our view of the night sky and the heavens really did afford us a magical display.
Finding the time to do something uplifting, to have a break from the difficulties life is currently throwing at us is essential to maintain the ability to deal with it all. I don’t know if it is a cultural thing, but why do us Brits often feel selfish when we take time out for ourselves? I firmly believe, that if you don’t do that regularly, then you become less able to handle those everyday stresses.
So I challenge you to make the time do something nice just for yourself. Bat away those feelings a of selfishness, because it’s not just you who benefits, but everyone else around you too. And so you must consider it your duty.
On that note, I’m just going to find the number for that luxury spa I’ve always wanted to visit.
Read more at countrymansdaughter.com. Follow me on Twitter @countrymansdaug
This column appeared in the Darlington and Stockton Times on 21st and Ryedale Gazette and Herald on 19th October 2022