Self-care: our top 10 picks
By Lucy Braude, Psychologist
When I mention ‘self-care’ to patients, they are too polite to roll their eyes (so far). If I am honest though, sometimes it looks like they want to! Self-care has become a ‘buzz-word’, and usually conjures up images of hot bubble baths or yoga classes. This is not feasible or appealing to everyone, and we know this. However, what we mean by self-care is any behaviour that contributes to our overall health and wellbeing. This can often get forgotten amongst work and family commitments, but it is so important to make time for. Here are our top 10 self-care tips:
- Food – Eat well! Sounds simple, doesn’t it? While it can be tricky, try to buy nutritious food that will nourish your body and make time to plan meals, prepare and eat them. If enjoying particular treats from time to time brings you pleasure, connection with friends and other benefits then that counts as self-care too (so long as we balance this with the more nutritious stuff!)
- Alcohol – Our systems don’t tend to cope well with excessive amounts of alcohol. Try to have alcohol free days and take a moment consider what you are drinking, how much and how often. As with everything, moderation is key.
- Sleep – Getting enough sleep is so important for our physical health, appetite and weight regulation, concentration, mood and general sanity. Prioritising getting enough sleep and addressing issues that prevent this often has a significant affect on other areas of your life.
- Exercise – You probably already know about the physical, mental and psychological benefits of exercise. Getting in some form of movement a few times a week is integral for weight loss and maintenance, coping with stress, emotion regulation, good cardiovascular health and much more.
- Fun – Humans are not machines, and an essential part of looking after ourselves is making time for fun. This might mean reading a book curled up on the couch, catching up with friends, heading to the cinema or taking the family out to the park.
- Connect – Most people struggle to cope when they find themselves in situations where they are socially isolated, are unable to talk to others regularly. This tells us how important connecting, belonging and socialising is for most people. Make time to text or call friends or family, start a conversation at work, or join a sport group or club to increase your opportunities to connect.
- Self-talk – You don’t have to stand in front of the mirror with a list of affirmations, but talking to yourself as you would to a friend or family member can go a long way. Often, our “default mode” is to criticise ourselves, which is unsurprisingly harmful to our wellbeing. Practice being kind and encouraging to yourself.
- Addressing physical health – Physical health is a big part of overall wellbeing. Make sure you are proactive about any new or existing health concerns. See your GP or specialists when needed and follow their advice. If you are unable to, be honest about why so that they can help you. Attend your follow up appointments and take your medications regularly.
- Mental health – Maintaining good mental health is just important as physical health. Be proactive about managing this by raising concerns with trusted friends and health professionals. Seek help with counselling, courses, medications or self-help books if you need.
- Goals – A big part of self-care is looking forward to the future and working towards goals. Whether your goals are around weight loss, career, relationships or something else, the act of setting, working on and achieving goals will build confidence and help you to feel good.
Why not pick three tips from the above to work on? Good luck!
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