Millions of women put the happiness of others before their own. It's not something we intentionally set out to do. And we're not trying to be martyrs. It just happens. This is particularly true if you are a mother. We sacrifice our weekends, our hobbies, our careers so that we can drive children to and from their activities, cheer them on as they take part in their sports or clubs, and simply be there for them even if they don't want you there.
We become a spectator, rather than a participant, in life.
But it's not just kids that we put first. We tend to put our family, parents, partners, friends, jobs, cleanliness of our homes, and our voluntary work before ourselves.
Somewhere in your 30s, you look up from a pile of nappies and wonder where the old you disappeared too. Or perhaps it's in your 40s that you realise your teenage kids no longer want you around quite as much or your job just doesn't fulfil you anymore. Possibly it's your 50s when your children are leaving home and you're faced with a stark reality of having to redefine your role. Or it could be your 60s when you retire from a job you've done all your life or a health scare wakes you up to all you've been missing. Whatever your age, we all reach that point when we realise that we've put our happiness last and it's time to fix that.
I think this is what people refer to as a mid life crisis. But you don't need to sell your house and backpack around the world or buy a convertible car or have an affair with a toy boy (but hey, feel free if any of those appeal!) All you need to do is put on a pair of boots, open your front door and start walking.
There are numerous studies that prove the benefits of walking:
There are countless studies out there about the benefits of walking. But I want to focus on the last two on that list. Because those are the ones that I think women need most.
When you've spent years putting others first, even though you are immensely capable and probably juggle a million things with the dexterity of a circus performer, you don't feel successful. That's because you're facilitating things, rather than doing them. You're watching rather than experiencing it.
Walking is a very simple, low cost way to gain a sense of achievement and stimulate your sense of adventure. Perhaps walking around the block is a big effort for you. Perhaps walking further than 5 miles is a challenge. Perhaps walking on your own seems scary. Perhaps heading to the hills where you need a map to find your way seems brave. Perhaps walking for several days in a row would be hard core. What about taking on a mountain or an epic multi-month through hike?
Everyone has their own challenge depending on where they are in life. But regardless of the size of the challenge, by doing it, you will be flooded with a sense of confidence and self belief. And that is what will make you feel genuinely happy. Hidden inside all of us is a sense of adventure. When you tap into it, you will realise what you are capable of. It's good to feel a little bit scared or a tad uncomfortable. It makes you feel alive. And feeling alive is what makes you feel happy.
So I challenge all you ladies to take up the #FindYou challenge. Go for a walk. Walk further than you usually do. Walk a different route. Plan a walking weekend. Go out in wet and windy weather. Just head out. Embrace the elements. Let yourself discover things. Slow down. Chat to strangers. Get lost. You may just find yourself - and happiness - in the process.
You in? Tell me in the comments or join the Glamoraks community of women who all put their boots on to get happy.