Maybe people think that they require discipline in order to thrive. They think that if they weren’t harsh and strict with themselves, they would fall off the wagon and live in squalor, eating take out and never exercising, forgetting to call loved ones or go to work.

When, do you think, we as a society, learned to trust ourselves to self-regulate so little?

When did we begin to believe so little in ourselves that we genuinely think we would be happy living that way, and that at no point in this descent to despair would we stop and climb ourselves back out: do the dishes, go for a walk, take a shower (assuming we are fortunate enough to have these options)?

If you find yourself in the grip of this fear (I must exercise today, even though I am exhausted. I cannot take the holiday I’m entitled to because I have too much to do. I cannot take 30 mins to watch my favourite show because the children would do XYZ in that time), I invite you to practice exercising your own self-regulation muscle.

This is the muscle that will pull you out of a hole, before you fall all the way in. You just have to learn how to ask it, and trust it.

Begin by every hour, or as often as you remember, asking yourself, how does my heart feel? How does my body feel? Wait until you receive a quiet, patient answer.

Then, ask yourself, what do I need right now? What would feel good? Again, wait for a patient, non-sarcastic answer (your fear can get pretty sarky at this point). Maybe you need a glass of water, to go to the bathroom (alone! for the parents out there), to eat a piece of fruit, go for a nap or a walk or stick your head outside and breathe fresh air. Maybe, you need a chocolate bar and some no-holds-barred sobbing.

Use this information to see what you are able to give to yourself. Let go of the judgement and the ‘shoulds’ and listen to what your heart is trying to tell you.

We can self-regulate beautifully given half a chance, but it requires knowing that we are allowed to ask the question, listening for the answer, and allowing and trusting ourselves to give us what we need.