A Mechanics Check List for Making Self Care Routine
This guest post comes from Dean Taunton of JLR Essex, specialists in Land Rover and Jaguar servicing and maintenance. With nearly 30 years experience in the automotive industry, Dean is well studied in servicing and repairing high performance engineering. Dean has also spent the last 30 years working in a primarily male industry, and has seen the need for more and more blokes to start speaking up about mental health.
When you work as a mechanic, you see how many people are willing to take time and thought out of their day for their cars, but not themselves. Hopefully, this post will give you some easy, accessible ways to bring elements of self care practice into a routine you already have: your car maintenance. As we get older, we know we need to start looking after our bodies more, but our mental health is no different. It’s tough to know how to start doing something like “self care,” but I like thinking about it with this definition from the Huffington Post:
‘Self-care is a fancy label for taking an active role in protecting your wellbeing and happiness, particularly during stressful times.’
Coupling new actions with old habits helps to cement them as part of your routine. This principle can easily be used to make something as tricky as making time for yourself so much easier; from checking in with yourself mentally after you give your car the once over to making sure your close friendships get a regular MOT too. Here, I’ve put together a couple of ways you can make routine maintenance something you do for yourself and not just your vehicle.
Check In With Yourself Mentally After You Give Your Car the Once Over
Giving your car a quick once over has probably become so routine to you that you don’t notice you’re doing it. How are the lights working? The brakes are okay? Do the tyres feel like they’ve got enough air in them? How worn are they?
As you become as a seasoned driver these questions become second nature. We learn over time (and sometimes from mistakes) the importance of keeping on top of these things and think about them perhaps once a week or more. So next time you find yourself in your car and going through these checks bring a couple of those questions inward. How are you doing? Are you holding tension in your shoulders? Breathing evenly? Are you hydrated?
Learning to check in with yourself and how you’re feeling is a huge part of practicing mindfulness. Knowing how you feel and what you’re doing means you can choose to continue or discontinue this action.
Once you’ve practiced this habit in your car you’ll be able to use it throughout your life and check in with your body whenever you feel something is off.
Declutter Your Car
Being in a tidy space can really affect your mood. If you spend a lot of time in your car, this is especially important. If you’re spending time there you might as well make it a pleasant space to be in. Organising your space allows you to take control over your things – literally and mentally. You’ll have less distractions, no lingering reminders of that guilty snack or skipped lunch, and a boost in self esteem to boot! The more you invest in making your car a nice place for you to be in, the more energy you’ll feel yourself having.
Drive Like Its A Test Drive
We pay a lot of attention to our car in that first test drive, which helps us to really focus on it and be in the moment. Every so often take a drive just for the sake of it- think about how the car feels, how you feel. Be present.
Take a couple of deep breaths, pay attention to your surroundings, listen to the car. This will help you build up the ability to stay focussed, which is one of the biggest barriers to meditation. If you find your mind drifting bring it back to focussing on the car- what sounds can you hear, how does it handle the corners? If you get caught in traffic acknowledge any feelings of frustration, but let yourself be carried away by them and keeping bringing your focus back. “Meditation” can be that simple!
Focus On Maintenance Tasks Completely
In the words of Ron Swanson: “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”
Studies have found that when people are multitasking, it takes them up to 40 percent longer to accomplish a task and they’re 50 percent more likely to make errors. Multitasking divides attention and lowers our skill level. Paying more attention to what you’re doing, instead of waiting for it to be done and move onto that other task, means that you’ll do higher quality work and lower your stress levels. Plus, you’ll get the ego boost of a job well done.
Change Up Bad Habits When You Change Your Oil
Getting self care ‘right’ is about finding a balance between being open for critique and self reflection, and not beating yourself over the head with self criticism. Adding time for self reflection to an activity you’re going to do every so often is a good way to make sure you keep checking back in with yourself on these bigger issues. So next time you’re waiting for your old oil to drain out use that time to check in with your habits. Are you getting outside enough? Eating well? Sleeping enough? Is there something you could do to work on this- or something you could do to congratulate yourself for making improvements?
You will definitely forget to do this by the next time you’re up for an oil change, so go pop a note reminding you to do this next to where you keep your car supplies (or just sharpie a reminder right onto the bottle.)
Give Close Friendships a Regular MOT
Research by the Movember Foundation found that over half of men reported having two friends or less that they would discuss a serious topic with- a figure that only increase as we age. With old friendships, it’s easy to let time pass and more and more stuff gets in the way- so at least once a year set actual, quality time aside to be with your friends. Book a weekend away, or just set a weekend aside to hang out at home together- and not just at Christmas!
It’s easy to get tied up in work and family life, but it’s important to look after close connections outside of those circles. It’ll do you all good- so why wait?
A study of 1,000 25 to 44 year old UK men by Book of Man found that more men are trapped in cycles of anxiety. 52% of men feel they need to conform to stereotypes, yet 65% believe stereotypes are dangerous to society. Similarly, 55% agree that social media has a bad effect on men’s self-image, while 71% of UK men continue to use social media weekly.
It’s easy to feel trapped in a cycle that leads to inevitable burnout, but with some preventive self care, you can keep that engine running. You wouldn’t expect your car to keep running on empty, so dont treat yourself that way. And if you can’t fix it right away it, doesn’t mean you have to push it away. Sometimes just having the bravery to acknowledge and sit with something is the action needed to start making it better.
We aren’t precise, predictable high performance engines and accepting our limitations is important if we want to take some of the pressure off.
Useful websites and helplines:
– Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
– Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI – this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
– The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org