For­get the NCT: it’s time for an ‘NC Me’

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BOOKS -

IAM good at ser­vic­ing the car. I usu­ally don’t feel very anx­ious when it comes up for the NCT. If it fails, it is usu­ally some­thing eas­ily fix­able and I am happy to have it pointed out, if a lit­tle miffed to have to go and do it. Like many peo­ple I take bet­ter care of my car than of my­self. What would an an­nual, or even monthly NC ‘Me’ look like? I mean a per­sonal mood and be­hav­iour check that gives an idea that all is run­ning smoothly, or points out some parts of life that need at­ten­tion.

First of all, I would see if I had been laugh­ing enough. I don’t just mean the odd chuckle. I mean the oc­ca­sional un­con­trol­lable belly laugh where ev­ery mus­cle in my body loses it. You need one of them now and again. They usu­ally hap­pen in com­pany so it is also a good check on whether I have been spend­ing more time in my own com­pany than is good for me. Laugh­ter re­ally is the best medicine. And there are the Mrs Brown’s spe­cials com­ing up which will take care of De­cem­ber.

I check if have let my­self drift into what I call a medium wave­length. The highs don’t re­ally ex­cite me, and the lows don’t re­ally bother me. It is all too easy to get into a dis­po­si­tion of just go­ing through the mo­tions of life. It is a bad sign and I am prone to it. It is pos­si­bly a very mi­nor de­pres­sion, but one eas­ily recog­nised and rec­ti­fied.

I like my gen­eral dis­po­si­tion to be one of kind­ness. Have I given any­one a help­ing hand? It has been my favourite com­pli­ment when some­one re­marked that I was gen­er­ally kind. It is not al­ways the case.

I have a good mem­ory and it seems to be par­tic­u­larly at­tuned to any per­ceived slight. I can re­mem­ber the bad things far more eas­ily than the good. I do try to see that this does not get out of bal­ance be­cause it is not a good way to live if it be­comes an at­ti­tude. My brain goes into over­drive when some­one lets me down or lies to me. It is the na­ture of life that both things hap­pen. I need to see that I am not ru­mi­nat­ing, that I have moved on, with­out for­get­ting and a bit on my guard lest I get caught again. I like to have a bit of a ‘don’t let the bas­tards get you down’ ap­proach.

If I am not do­ing well on my ‘me’ test at this stage I turn my at­ten­tion to ex­er­cise. These days you could go for a month and not get your heart rate above walk­ing pace. Never a good idea. Ex­er­cise is nearly as good as laugh­ter.

Ex­er­cise also makes it more likely I hit the pil­low, sleep with a smile and wake up re­freshed. Wak­ing up and toss­ing and turn­ing in the mid­dle of the night is a no, no. Some­thing needs to change. Fig­ure out what it is. That said I do en­joy my oc­ca­sional night­mares and some­times it is nice to read a chap­ter of a book at 4am.

Food is the fi­nal one I take a look at. I don’t tend to eat junk, though I have to take care not to leave ice cream in the fridge. Cook­ing is a great plea­sure. With a lit­tle ef­fort we can all get bet­ter at it. There are few bet­ter mood main­tain­ers than cook­ing a meal for friends who ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­fort.

‘Ex­er­cise is nearly as good as laugh­ter. Ex­er­cise also makes it more likely that I hit the pil­low, sleep with a smile — and wake up re­freshed...’

The chances are you will have a few laughs, hear sto­ries that will give you a lift, and some that will upset. Ev­ery­day cares will van­ish. Car­ry­ing plates is ex­er­cise and you’ll sleep like a baby.

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