Lessons From a Vacuum Cleaner

Do you get to the point that something stops working and then look to fix it?

That used to be my default mode, particularly when I felt I was short of time.

But having been in that situation several times (sometimes with financial implications) I have developed an attitude of taking care of things each time I use them, to minimise the chance of them breaking or at least to give them the best chance of working for a long time.

The best example I have of this is my vacuum cleaner. I used to merrily clean away for months or years until the brush head was so entangled with hairs picked up from the carpet that it struggled to get anything clean (and I could struggle for up to an hour to remove the mess).

Vacuuming confetti from rug
Image by No Revisions via Unsplash

When I bought my latest model six years ago I made a decision to clean out the brush head each time I used it, unless I was cleaning in a rush. It takes me one or two minutes at the most and doesn’t involve resorting to attempting to manoeuvre a pair of scissors in between the hair and the brush!

I do think this is an important practical lesson to learn: that looking after things on a regular basis is definitely the better way to go as it will save time and money in the long run and should keep things in working order.

But it’s been a few articles since my last metaphor so let’s take it one step further…

Taking care of your mental well-being should not be something you leave until you are struggling. Even finding a couple of minutes a day to do something to help you recharge, reset or rest will benefit you in the long term.

Feel like you don’t have time to look after yourself because you have others who need you? If you leave it too long you risk getting to a place where you don’t have the resources to care for either yourself OR your loved ones.

A few places to start that will only take a few minutes:

  • Take three deep breaths where you exhale for longer than you inhale
  • Listen to a song you love and just enjoy it, don’t do anything else at the same time
  • Think of a word or short phrase each day that sums up what you want to focus on
  • Savour at least the first taste of something you are eating or drinking (ideally the whole thing)

If you know that you’re not making any time to look after yourself, make a commitment to start today; see this article as the sign that you need, don’t wait for something to go wrong to tell you that you need to make a change.

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