January, Journey, Job and Germs (& Self-Care)

This post details how my January has gone so far, my reflections on it, and has an important message at the end.

This January is almost over! How many of you have achieved goals you set out for yourself? And if you didn’t have goals, do you feel you’ve accomplished something good in the first month of 2018?

Sometimes goals you set for yourself don’t get accomplished for one reason or another, and that’s okay. It’s probably not healthy to beat ourselves up in any way for ‘failing’ to achieve a more or less arbitrary goal that we set.

As I was between jobs this month, I’d planned to spend the whole of January in coffee shops and libraries working hard at some personal web projects. This desire got put on hold practically the moment the new year fireworks began. I contracted a cold.

I thought ‘ah, this cold will go away in a few days, they always do, especially when I’m at work and I’m too busy to think about being ill’. However, I wasn’t at work, I was out of my routine and so I sort of lingered at home waiting to get better. Unluckily for me, the cold evolved into a really bad chest infection – I think it was pneumonia but I never found out for sure.

During the infection, I rested, visited an a&e doctor and got myself some decongestant, but didn’t do much else really. 10 days into the new year, I finally began to feel better but was still fatigued. The bags under my eyes told that story.

With around 10 days until I was due to move to Berlin so I could look for flats before beginning work in February, I couldn’t find any time to work on my projects between the logistical juggle of storing my things, packing, throwing things away, opening a new bank account, getting health insurance, finding temporary accommodation, and organising goodbyes with friends.

On the 21st January, I flew to Berlin. I spent the next 3 days moving my heavy suitcase around, spending time at my new office, meeting my new work mates, going to a cool meetup, and finding a flat. It was on the 22nd that I realised I was getting ill again. This never happens, right? Getting flu or a cold, and then getting another nearly straight after?

It had never happened to me, but there’s a first time for everything. To say I was gutted would be an understatement. With so much to see and discover in Berlin I was determined to double-down on this illness and recover as fast as humanely possible. I bought ginger, lemons, apples, oranges, 100% fruit juice, a re-fillable water bottle (thank goodness Berlin’s water is drinkable), and lots of other food.

I slept nearly all hours of the day for the next 2 days, ingested about 5 different sources of vitamin C, took my multivitamin I’d been neglecting, and ate lots of food. I began to feel better fast. The infusion of vitamins and rest took my fatigue away. I felt like doing stuff again. I’m sure the oranges are the only reason I feel like writing this post.

When I reflected on the month, and about how ill I’d been, I realised that I’d expected my first illness to go away and to be fine within days. Did I treat the illness, or myself, seriously? No! I’d expected to be fine and bounce right back on track. I got reminded of something incredibly important this month – and that’s self-care. It could be because I’ve been out of my usual routine and had lots to do, but I think a lot of people neglect this crucial thing no matter what they’re doing in life. I’ll save the ‘but this is the world we live in now’ debate for another time because I think it’s really interesting.

From February onwards, I am going to make sure that, despite being in full-time work again, I’m going to treat myself kindly, sleep a lot, and eat plenty of healthy meals (something I definitely neglected the past few months). In other words, I’m going to be proactive instead of acting reactively after I’ve been pushed to breaking point. Being proactive rather than reactive is a good thing for any aspect of life – from raising kids, to staying healthy, to achieving a goal. Just don’t be so proactive about one thing that you neglect others – something I am also guilty of.