Now this is a lot easier to say than to do, but we all need to learn to care a little less in some capacity. Whether that be taking the plunge and following your dreams or trying to care less about what others think of you, it can help to disengage your brain and just act. Here are a few things I do to try and care a little less.
1. Focus on your happiness not others.
The sooner we learn to be happy and live our lives for ourselves, the sooner we begin to care less. We aren’t put on this planet to constantly please others, and it is completely unachievable to do so. No matter what you do, there will always be someone in the world who isn’t happy or doesn’t like you, and that’s just life. I have always sought gratification from other people, but it rarely made me happy, because more often than not I didn’t get the response I wanted. So, as soon as I started recognising that only I could make myself happy, not the reaction of others, I stopped caring so much about what they thought.
2. Recognise what is actually important.
If we take the time to think about what actually matters and is important to us, we can quickly distinguish what doesn’t matter. For example, my family & friends, work, and running are important to me, so if I’m worrying about someone or something outside of that, it’s a waste of energy, because chances are it doesn’t actually affect me directly. Remembering what is important allows you to separate that which is pointless to worry about.
3. Life is too short to worry.
It sounds cliche, but life is short and we only get one shot at it, so why worry what other people think or what the future may hold when neither is relevant now. Reminding yourself of this can have a major effect on the way you think. If you find your thoughts spiralling, refocus on the shortness of life, and ask yourself if that worry is worth your time or is adding your life in a positive way. If it isn’t, dismiss it.
4. Other people’s actions are outside of your control.
You can only control your own actions, no matter how hard you may try to control those of others. Therefore, you can’t make them stop what they’re doing, so you have to control how you think. If the way they make you feel gets to you, take control of your feelings. The only way to stop that is to stop how you respond to their actions. Once you recognise how little control you have over other people’s behaviour, you will take more responsibility for your reaction. Ultimately, the only way to stop someone making you feel like crap is to change how you react. Only you can stop yourself feeling rubbish.
5. Think how others make you feel.
If you find yourself worrying and caring too much about something, ask yourself how it would make you feel in someone else’s shoes. When I say this, I mean do other people acting in similar ways to you bother you? For example, if you are worrying about whether people will judge what you say, think, if they were to say the same thing, would you care? More often than not, you wouldn’t. I sometimes worry that people think I talk too much about pointless crap, but if I flip it, and ask myself, do I care if others chat rubbish to me? The answer is no! So why am I wasting time worrying.
6. Share your thoughts.
Finally, the most important point in my eyes. Share your thoughts. The only way to care less about things is to share them. It really is true that a problem shared is a problem halved. The quicker you talk to someone else about something, the sooner you stop giving a f***.
As of April 2022, the government wants to make it law for restaurants to show calorie values as part of a scheme to tackle obesity. Whilst I agree the obesity crisis needs to be tackled, and urgently, I don’t think this is the best way forward. Showing calories may help those with obesity choose less calorific options, but how will this educate the population to make good food choices at home, and what psychological impact will this have?
Speaking from the view of someone who has had a disordered relationship with food in the past, this news scares me. Mostly because of the effect it will have on vulnerable and current sufferers. When I was battling with disordered thoughts, I would search online for nutritional information before I went to a restaurant and use this to find out what I would and wouldn’t allow myself to eat. If the meal I would’ve ordered irrespective of calories was one of the highest on the menu, I felt ashamed. I felt guilty that my natural food decisions lent towards foods higher in calories. This already meant the enjoyment of a meal was taken away! This information would govern what I ordered and reinforce the belief that I had to eat as little as possible.
In the mind of someone with disordered eating, it becomes a competition with yourself to eat as little as possible, especially when the numerical value of each meal is written in front of you. I find it so sad looking back on that time now and thinking about how I wasted precious time with loved ones at restaurants worrying inside about what I was eating, rather than enjoying the time. Personally, a meal out is a special occasion designed to be enjoyable. I don’t want people to feel shame over their food choices or go for something purely because of its calories. Food items in supermarkets have calorie guides on them to inform people on a daily basis, a restaurant is a chance to avoid this.
It’s a bigger issue.
I also feel the obesity crisis is bigger than the calories written on a menu. Individuals need to be educated, not just given a digit and told to aim for the lowest value. The number next to a dish doesn’t say anything about its nutritional worth, nor does it educate people on how to lead a healthy lifestyle when they leave the restaurant. If people could be encouraged to lead healthy, BALANCED lifestyles, where it is ok to eat everything in moderation and where exercise is part of their daily routine, the problem would be solved in a more maintainable way. For example, at school, we had sports lessons (many tried to skive), but we were never informed (except if you chose to study sports for GCSE) how important exercise is to our health, nor were we educated enough on eating a healthy balanced diet. Then, for many, as life, family and work commitments increase, often diet and routine exercise takes a hit, a little time is spent focusing on the key ingredients of tackling the obesity crisis.
No two calories are the same.
I’m no specialist, but I know that no two calories are the same. Calories don’t necessarily indicate the true nutritional value of a dish. If we want to educate our country on healthy living to tackle obesity, surely, we need to educate them on how to make healthy food choices and eat a balanced diet, because this isn’t completely governed by the number of calories in something. Calorie guides won’t necessarily produce a healthier population in my eyes, because individuals will end up determining what they should or shouldn’t eat based on a number, rather than the nutritional value of something. For example, snacking daily on sweets and crisps may be less calorie dense than a portion of nuts, but which would lead to a healthier population?
We need to live.
Finally, we need to be able to live a little. Life is all about balance and enjoying ourselves whilst keeping our bodies healthy overall. Going out to a restaurant is a treat for most people, so surely everyone should be allowed to eat freely on occasion. If efforts are made to educate people outside of restaurants, when they are in their homes, restaurant food choices would automatically differ.
Perhaps, to protect those more vulnerable to being triggered by calorie information and to inform others, having optional calorie or non-calorie stated menus would be a way forward. However, I still feel in restaurants it isn’t needed.
Growing up, we are all taught about the importance of being kind to others and treating people how we want to be treated, but there is little, if nothing, taught about being kind to yourself. Consequently, many of us treat ourselves in a way we would never dream of treating somebody else. For example, those destructive thoughts can creep in and tell you that you aren’t good enough and constantly grind you down. Now, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would never contemplate telling someone there weren’t good enough to pursue their dreams. Would you? So why do we speak to ourselves like that?
Being kind to yourself is so important, and here’s how I work towards doing that.
Set time aside for you.
Life can be busy, with everyday jam packed with training, work, catching up with friends and household jobs, that you rarely have time to sit back and relax. Sometimes just incorporating 15 minutes in your day for yourself can do the world of good. It allows you to step back from the chaos of the world and breathe. Those few moments to yourself allow you to come back to the present and remember who you are and what you stand for. It allows you to check you are in a positive place and haven’t forgotten to take care of your own mental state.
Get plenty of sleep.
I’m not myself when I’m tired, and I definitely can’t think straight let alone rationally. I think it is so important to get a sufficient amount of sleep. I aim for 8.5-9 hours and because I know I will always wake up between 6-6:30, I make sure I’m in bed nice and early. A well rested mind is a lot stronger and more focused for the day ahead than a tired one, so be kind and allow yourself those much-needed hours in bed.
Fuel your body sufficiently.
Just like a tired person, a hungry person is illogical. And even worse, a constantly hungry person lacks all sense of coherent judgement. Taking the time to factor three decent meals into the day doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it can have a significant effect on how we handle the days in front of us. Food not only fuels our bodies, it fuels our brains
Take time away from social media.
Something I find significantly affects my mental state, is if I spend too much time scrolling through Instagram. I can be guilty of comparing myself to others too much and as a consequence I end up in a bad place. At times, the first thing I would do is check instagram when I wake up, therefore I am already starting the day by comparing myself. When I feel it getting the better of me, I make the conscious decision to not scroll and not check instagram as soon as I wake up. I use Instagram to post but stop myself from constantly checking to see what other people are doing. This allows me to be happier with myself, rather than feeling the need to be living up to the lives of others.
Whatever it is that helps you, be kind to yourself. There are also some phenomenal charities out there such as Mind, that offer a phone line service to those that want to talk.
The definition of ‘good’ refers to the need ‘to be desired or approved of’ (Oxford Languages, 2021). But why do we feel the need to be seen as ‘good enough’ by other people who are sometimes even strangers? Why do we spend so much of our lives trying to be approved of? What gives other people the right to decide if we are ‘good enough’?
Sustained happiness cannot be guaranteed by others. This is something I have worked hard to recognise and deal with. No one else is in charge of our lives, only we are. Therefore, essentially, we need to please ourselves and be proud of who we are, because only we can guarantee our own happiness. How we perceive ourselves has a significant effect on how we feel within ourselves.
I think running is very powerful in this respect. A lot of runners spend more time on their own than many other people do. I personally do the majority of my running solo, and I have come to love it. I think the act of running alone teaches you to seek happiness from yourself rather than from others as you have spend a lot more time with yourself.
So, how can we step towards believing we are good enough without seeking approval from others?
Step 1: Accepting others will have their opinions
Step 2: Trust yourself.
Step 3: Be comfortable in your own skin
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!