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Have you put the heating on yet?

Have you put your heating on yet?

The rule in our house is that the heating doesn’t go on until October, which often means spending parts of September with hot water bottles, blankets and fingerless gloves to keep warm. I know we’re not the only people who have a rule about the heating, but I’ve been wondering about the purpose it serves and what it means about our attitude to looking after ourselves.


In some ways I’m quite good at self-care, particularly when I think about my emotional needs, but the guilt I felt when I gave in and put the heating on in September made me realise that I can neglect my physical needs. I had to make justifications about the heating being on for the benefit of family members, or even to help washing dry, it wasn’t enough to simply say that I didn’t want to be cold. While I know some of this is to do with times in my life when frugality was a necessity rather than a choice, these days it is about the value (or lack of) that I place on my own comfort. While I am happy to pay for therapy and personal development activities (lego) when I need them, I was reluctant to invest in the gift of warmth.


Any of you who are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need will know that our physical needs are part of the foundation, if we do not attend to them along with safety, we cannot truly satisfy our psychological and self-fulfilment needs. Failure to look after our bodies really does stops us from reaching our full potential. When I am cold, I lack energy, I get grumpy and I stop looking after myself in other ways. The decision to not put the heating on had impacted on so many other areas of my life, before I even realise what is happening.


So often in the past I have worked with clients who want to make changes in their lives, but because their basic needs are not being met, they are struggling. It may be simple to say that you need to learn to value yourself as much as you would those around you, but that can mean dismantling lots of old beliefs and rules. Sometimes (as with my rule about the heating) we don’t even realise that the things we have always done are a symptom of our lack of self-worth.


So, earlier this week I put the heating, on even though it was still September, and for no other reason than I was cold. It was a good reminder, that self-care is never finished, and it includes all the parts of ourselves. With that in mind, I’m on leave next week I’ll still be checking messages, but less often so it might take a little longer to respond as I finish decorating the dining room (now I’ve figured out what it wants to be).


I’d love to know what self-imposed rule could you let go of to show yourself some care?



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