Yes, the sun does help


I suspect we’ve all heard it; the sun can help improve our mental health. Well, for once I’m inclined to agree, but not for the reason you might think.

You see, we’ve just had a heatwave in the UK, and on Friday I decided I was tired of dressing so that other people would be comfortable with my body. And so the belly came out. I spent the day feeling comfortable in my own body for the first time in a long time, wearing shorts and a sports bra to go shopping.

I’m sure that there were some who looked at me and thought I was crazy; I’m not the stereotypical slim girl you normally see wearing such attire. However, nobody said anything, and I smiled the whole day through.

So the sun did help my mental health, but it did so instantly. It helped by forcing me to make wardrobe choices that centred around my comfort rather than the comfort of others. Friday was a big day for me, in so many ways.

I’ve grown up in a world where the media sees fit to tell me that I don’t have a perfect body, and that I should do everything I can to hide it until I manage to change it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried to change it. However, I’ve recently had a string of illnesses that have sent me spiralling off-track with my exercise routine. My hips and tummy are softer than they were while it was raining last month – and I’m not going to suffer because of it.

I’ll pick up the exercise again in a few weeks, but it won’t be with the aim of making my body “more attractive” for people to look at; it will be with the simple aim of becoming fitter so that I can run competitively.

I’m going to exercise with only myself in mind, not the general public.

It’s pretty liberating.

It’s taken a few years, but I’ve finally realised that I don’t need a man to tell me that I’m beautiful. Our confidence is what makes us beautiful. I am at my most beautiful right now.

My promise to you, and more importantly, to myself, is that I’m done with trying to eat as little as possible. I’m done forcing myself to do sit ups while battling the flu. I’m done torturing myself for the sake of others.

And while we’re at it, let’s stop pointing out flaws in people. Let’s stop making people feel like they have to push themselves during illness or go hungry from time to time. Dammit, have dessert before your main course – why deny yourself simple pleasures?

Recently, in Manchester, England, 22 people were killed immediately after Ariana Grande’s concert. The youngest, she was only 8 years old. If that doesn’t put things into perspective, I don’t know what will. That girl had barely even started in life. So much lay ahead of her. We’ve had the privilege of making it this far in life – why squander a single second by living your life for somebody else rather than yourself?

It’s just one more in a long line of tragedies that have hit too close to home for my liking, and yet it’s the one that finally put life and all of its twists and turns into some kind of perspective for me. A young woman who isn’t much older than me has her concert bombed and 22 of her fans killed. I spill my coffee or miss my bus. Who’s really having the bad day? Not me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “cheer up, someone always has it worse than you”, far from it in fact. I hate that expression with a passion.

No, while it’s true that somebody always has it worse than us, pain is relative. It’s a deeply personal thing, and no matter what somebody else is going through, it doesn’t mean we should hurt any less. However, it’s always a good idea to remind ourselves that things could be much worse, and that pretty soon whatever we’re feeling will pass.

It’s been a rough few weeks for a lot of people. We’re hurting. But we will get up and we will continue to live our lives. The fascists and the extremists, they can do their very best to divide us; we will rise. They have yet to do anything other than draw us closer together.

Believe that we will find strength through unity.

What harm can hope do?