What is self-care?
Self-care is caring for ourselves. It's treating ourselves with kindness and compassion and engaging in activities that will make us feel better both immediately and over time. It sounds easy but it's not always.
Why can self-care be difficult?
There are many reasons why self-care can be difficult:
• We lead busy lives and might forget or not make time to engage in self-care.
• We might turn to coping mechanisms that give us immediate relief or happiness but can do us harm in the longer term.
• We might not recognise the need for self-care. Sometimes we can gradually become upset and stressed and not realise until we're overwhelmed.
• When we're feeling down, engaging in any self-care takes a lot of effort and energy we might not feel we have.
Looking after your body
One part of self-care is to look after yourself physically. Here are some ideas for keeping healthy.
Try not to expect too much too soon or try to do everything at once! You’re much more likely to achieve one small positive change and gradually build on it, rather than to try to maintain a lot of new changes at once.
Caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol
These can make us feel good immediately but make us feel worse over time. Try reducing them for a few weeks and see if this helps to improve how you feel.
Regular exercise has many benefits, such as enhancing sleep quality, boosting your mood, self-esteem and energy, and reducing depression.
You don't have to spend hours in the gym but can take small actions, like taking the stairs instead of the lift. Could you go for walk? Or take up a new activity, like or yoga?
By eating healthily, we give our bodies the fuel they need to fight off illness and function well throughout the day.
You can start small by trying to eat an extra portion of fruit or veg a day, or swap white bread for brown. Keeping a food diary can help you keep track of what you eat and motivate you to eat well.
Our body needs water. It's recommended that we drink between 6-8 glasses of water a day.
Try to keep a bottle with you at work or school and take a small drink regularly. If you don't like the taste, try adding a slice of lemon, grapefruit or cucumber.
Laughter is the best medicine! It relaxes the body, relieving tension, boosts the immune system and releases endorphins, which can help to relieve pain. Try watching your favourite comedy or YouTube video, or listen to a funny podcast.
Your body needs sleep to heal itself. To get a good night's sleep, try not looking at a screen for 45 minutes before bed. Instead try to relax by reading a book or taking a bath. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try listening to a bedtime story on a site like Calm, or you could try meditation.
Looking after your well being
Your emotional well being is just as important as your physical health.
Being kind to ourselves and giving ourselves breaks when we need them can improve the way we feel. Below are some self-care suggestions.
Clean or tidy
Keeping our homes clean and tidy can make us feel better and less stressed, as well as maintaining a healthy living environment.
It's not generally healthy to suppress the way we feel. Finding an outlet for our emotions is important.
Make plans with friends and family
Having something to look forward to can be a great motivator and gives us something positive to think about when we're feeling low. Plus spending time with loved ones can make us feel better.
You could arrange to have a home-cooked meal together or go out for a coffee - whatever you enjoy doing.
Message or call a friend
Keeping in touch with friends and loved ones can be really good for our well being. If you prefer to keep conversation light, you could ask what they did at the weekend or if they saw a TV show you enjoyed.
Put the kettle on
As well as it being important to stay hydrated, it can also be good to stay warm and take breaks. Take a few minutes for yourself each day with your preferred hot drink.
Shower or take a bath
Taking a hot shower or bath can be really relaxing, as well as obviously being part of personal hygiene and staying well. When we're feeling low, taking a shower can seem like a huge task. Try to focus on something about it that you enjoy, like the warmth or how clean you feel afterwards.
Smiling can improve our mood even if we don't feel happy when we start to smile. If you're having trouble raising a smile, try holding a pencil horizontally in your mouth between your teeth. Doing this makes you smile.
Wash your sheets or clothes
Having clean things to wear and sleep in is a small thing we can do to make ourselves feel better, as well as keeping healthy.