Self-care is a term that has been ever-present on social media and around the web lately. But what exactly is it? And why do people seem to be talking about it so much?
Self-care is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a way of taking care of your health and well-being by doing something that makes you feel good and relaxed and increases resilience in coping with the curveballs that life can often throw at us.
The reason self-care is trending right now is because of the persistence of mental health charities such as Mind and YoungMinds to ensure that mental health is taken as seriously as physical health since at present government funding for mental health is a fraction of the budget for physical health. However, mental health and physical health are intertwined rather than binary; therefore, looking after our mental health can help our physical health improve and vice versa.
I don’t have time to self-care
Even if self-care was for one hour out of your day, it’s enough to bring about a whole range of health benefits. It doesn’t have to be a solid hour that would be difficult to fit into your daily routine, it could be smaller chunks dotted around your day to suit you. Self-care can also come in the form of simply switching off from some things.
How do I self-care
There are many ways to self-care and really these would be dependent on you, your lifestyle, daily routine and interests. Here are some ways to self-care:
- Get creative. Drawing, painting, colouring, sewing, baking, cooking, knitting, journalling, photography, blogging or creative writing can all be creative ways to unwind.
- Get active. Increasing physical activity by partaking in sports, swimming, walking, running or going to the gym can increase the production of the feel-good hormone. Improving mental well-being while improving physical health;
- Get relaxed. Yoga, meditation or even a trip to a spa or beauty therapist can help us feel better about ourselves;
- Get rested. If you’re feeling tired or burned out, your body needs to rest and recuperate. This could be done by getting some extra sleep or perhaps binge-watching a box set.
- Get organised. For some people being well-organised makes their day more manageable and increases their productivity which in turn reduces stress. This could take the form of a diary with hourly slots, a wall planner or a bullet journal.
- Help someone else. For some people, helping others is a good way to help themselves too, Do-it has a range of volunteer activities that can be done from home or within areas local to individuals.
Self-care in the form of simply switching off
Many individuals live very busy lives these days and often juggle multiple things at any one time. So, simply switching off at certain points in the day can bring about a host of well-being benefits for those individuals, for example:
- Not having emails linked to a mobile phone or tablet device or perhaps turning those notifications off at the end of the working day;
- Having a separate contact number for work-related calls;
- Not accessing any electronic devices during mealtimes or during quality time with family or friends;
- Using a timed method such as the Pomodoro method to increase productivity for a certain amount of time but then also schedule breaks to be away from that task. Apps are available for smartphones and tablet devices;
- Being self-disciplined and not working or studying past a certain time when at home.
Most of all, it’s important to find something that works well for you. There may be services in your local community that could offer some support in accessing some of these self-care activities.
Kimberley Atherton is studying for her master’s degree in psychology at the University of Sunderland. She is a student member of the British Psychological Society.