Looking After Yourself

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It’s national Self Care Week and Health Shield wants to help by providing you with some more information on what self-care is and how it can benefit you.

Self Care Week happens annually and aims to help put a focus on getting support to everyone across all communities and generations.  Being self-aware is about being able to identify what you and your body needs and taking steps to meet those needs. Looking after yourself is one of the most important things you can do, but it’s also easily forgotten about, especially if you are a full-time carer for a friend or family member. Anyone can be a carer, whether you are a 40-year-old caring for your partner or a child that takes care of a parent. There are more than 6.5 million people in the UK that are carers — that’s a lot of people who might be forgetting to take care of themselves!

Self-care can be simple, and the effects can be seen in the short term as well as the long term —  something to remember as the population’s life expectancy continues to increase. Life expectancy is now expected to rise by one year every five years for women, and every 3.5 years for men. This can take its toll in later life. Not only will you be living longer, but so will your parents and if you are a full-time carer, the impact on your life will only increase. Self-care is about looking after your health and that of your family and it is often practiced alongside mindfulness.

The Self Care Forum has some key messages to help everyone understand the benefits and how best to look after themselves:

  • Your self-care goes from head to toe every day. This includes taking time to unwind and eating healthily
  • Be mindful of yourself, health and happiness — do things that make you happy whether that is reading a book or exercise
  • Eat well and stay active to keep yourself healthy in your body and mind — try to complete 30 minutes of exercise each day or even go for a walk to help de-stress and clear your mind

Having a good self-care routine means that your overall health will improve. You will be better at fighting off those common colds as you’ll see an improvement in your immune system and you’ll also see an improvement in how you handle stress as self-care brings positive thinking. If you feel happy and well cared for in yourself, it reflects in your mood and brings further feelings of calm and relaxation.

How can you take part in vital self-care?

  • Talk to people — friends, relatives or local support groups
  • Sit outside where it’s quiet and just listen to the natural sounds — the birds, the wind, the sea if you live close to a beach
  • Ensure you get enough sleep — people often forget the effects that lack of sleep can have on your mood and energy levels
  • Take regular warm and relaxing baths — warm water is known to be soothing and relaxing and works wonders for any tense muscles and the mind
  • Read a book or watch a film you enjoy or listen to your favourite music to help you switch off and unwind
  • Movement is good — when you’re enjoying yourself and moving around you produce happy hormones that help you feel good and better about yourself

The key is to do whatever suits you best — do whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed. Everyone is different, so even if it seems unusual to some, if it works for you — do it! Self-care gives you the feeling of control. It allows you to change your habits to better your life and change your perspective on the day.  It is also known to assist with diabetes, hypertension and back pain.  Self-care for those with these health problems can see their symptoms improve and help them to live a more productive and fuller day.

Always remember, you are an important person, you are valuable and deserving and you need to look after yourself.

Health Shield members have access to mywellness which has a range of information and resources to help improve your everyday health and wellbeing.

Sources:

http://www.fgwrc.ca/uploads/ck/files/Resources/Factsheets/FactSheetSelfCare.pdf

http://www.selfcareforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Why-self-care-is-good-for-people.pdf

https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/self-care-good-for-both-body-and-mind/

http://dev.selfcareforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/comms_info_2017.pdf

https://carers.org/what-carer

https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/press-releases/facts-and-figures

https://jdmdonline.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2251-6581-12-14