I treated myself today: I visited the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square in London and spent several blissful hours wandering, lost in contemplation of the exceptional collection of paintings on show there.
I used to feel guilty about making time in my life to pursue the things I enjoy most. But my perspective has changed since I realised that this is an important part of taking good care of my mental health.
When I think about all the fascinating places and treasures that are dotted around–castles, art galleries, areas of natural beauty–I realise how few of them I have seen for myself. Fear not though, because there is a way to remedy this situation.
All I need to do is get to these wonderful places and spend time there: it really is that simple. The upside is that I end up feeling happier, no small thing these days when so much that goes on is a source of dismay, fear and anger.
There’s another reason behind my visits to art galleries in particular: I’m learning so much about art and art history which is an interest I’m pursuing in tandem with the development of my own painting skills. It’s a combination of seeing and doing: the most effective way for me to learn.
So what I’m doing is not so much self-indulgence as self-improvement. It’s a valuable kind of self-care, looking after my mind. I find it calming but also exhilarating. The beauty of some of the works is indescribably uplifting.
Above all I find it fun, pleasurable. And speaking of pleasure, the painting above by Georges Seurat caught my eye because in its swirls and curves I saw a very clear delight in the subject from the artist–it transpired on reading the notes alongside that the model was Madeleine Knobloch, Seurat’s lover. The things–and people of course–we love are important and our lives are all the better for them.