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Taking care of ourselves

Taking care of ourselves sounds like common sense but is something that we can quite often forget to do. This might be for many reasons such as the pressures of everyday life - the demands of work, family, housework, study, caring for dependents etc. or it can be because we’re feeling low and lack the motivation to do anything other than what’s necessary. For some, taking care of themselves feels like a selfish thing to do and that the needs of other people are more important than their own.

Taking Care of OurselvesOver time a lack of self-care can lead us to feeling exhausted, run-down and ill. Life’s problems can feel overwhelming and this can lead to stress, anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, if we don’t take action to prioritise our own needs it can lead to a vicious downward cycle

Yet no matter what our reasons are for not looking after ourselves, our bodies and minds are built for both work and rest. Not only do we need a good night’s sleep to recover and repair from the previous day and be refreshed ready for the next one, but we also need to remind ourselves of the pleasures of life and feel that life has moments of positivity and joy.

So how can you find the time and/or motivation to make some time for yourself? I believe the first step is acknowledging that you need it – rather than it being an optional extra. For some it’s also about realising that their needs are as important as everyone else’s – learning to be kinder to yourself and believing that you’re worth taking care of. Also, you can start small – one thing at a time.

For those who are feeling anxious and depressed, self-care can be like a prescription for helping yourself feel that bit better.

Then it’s about working out what does help you relax and have fun. We’re all different in this respect and that’s absolutely OK – there’s lots of options – and what works for one person may not be so helpful for another. Some suggestions might be: spending time with family and friends, gentle exercise, taking a warm bath, reading, watching a film, walking the dog, drawing and painting, listening to music – but you decide. Also, there are resources on the internet for relaxation exercises such as breathing techniques and guided meditation and apps that you can download to your phone, some of which are free.

A word of caution though – self-care is about being kind to yourself, rather than adding another thing to pressurise yourself into doing and then feeling guilty if you don’t manage it. Perhaps start with just a few minutes one day and then building up from there.

In life there are many challenges that we face, and we need to look after ourselves in the process. If you feel that talking things through will help, then that can be another act of self-care – I’m here to help.