This week is self care week, which is an important reminder for all of us to take a breather and make our wellbeing priority number one.
What is ‘self care’?
Self care has become a bit of a buzzword in the last year. Put simply, self care is looking after yourself, taking care of your mental health and physical health as best you can. I’ll be sharing some ‘self care tips’ in this post.
Why is looking after yourself important?
For disabled people looking after ourselves is crucial to managing our health conditions. This is especially true with the onset of winter, which can worsen symptoms.
Because the term ‘self care’ has been used a lot by the health and beauty industry to sell their products, it can conjure up images of expensive spa days and treatments. However, looking after yourself is actually much cheaper and more accessible.
Hopefully the following can be done in your own home or locally, inexpensively, or for free. Not all of these suggestions can be done by everyone, depending on your health condition. However, I’ve put together a range of ideas so hopefully you will be able to try at least one tip.
Try and make contact with the outside world at least once a day
This tip will look different to each person. If you can, get out of the house to a park, a shop, or just around the block. If that’s impossible, try and open a window and sit near it. If you can, make a phone call to talk to someone or chat to someone online. It can be all too easy to retreat from the outside world when we don’t feel our best, but keeping in contact with it is important for managing our mental health.
If you’d like to have a go at gardening and it’s something you can do, we’ve launched a community gardening project.
Enjoy some of your favourite music
Turn it up loud, dance or sing along – or if you can’t do those things – just enjoy the way it sounds. The more upbeat the better. We often forget to do small things for ourselves that we enjoy, but this one is an easy and cheap way to cheer yourself up.
Celebrate the small victories
Did you get out of the house today even though it was hard? Did you do the washing up when it was a struggle? Did you rise to another challenge? Well done! Give yourself some credit for the things you achieve – even if they seem small. This will give your self-esteem and your mental wellbeing a boost.
Learn something new
There are many websites where you can pick up basic skills in your home, for free! Sites like Alison.com offer time management, basic business skills and psychology. Alternatively, if online learning is not your thing, your local library or local council should have free access to basic skills courses.
Or, could anyone you know teach you how to play a new game? A couple of my friends have helped me start to crochet and knit, which is a great distraction and way of relaxing in the evenings. I’ll also hopefully get a scarf out of it!
If you’re a PA, Support Worker or Healthcare Assistant, we have inexpensive Health and Social Care training. Find out more on our website.
This next tip comes from another team member at Independent Lives: ‘To manage unwelcome thoughts and anxiety I focus on something happening outside my window. It might be the way the cloud is moving or watching someone walk their dog and imagining how the dog feels. Imagining being a dog is likely to make me laugh and distract me. I then try to slow down my breathing and thoughts.
Being outside even if it’s in a car park looking up at the sky for 5 minutes, or doing something absorbing like following a recipe and making a meal is the only thing that always works for me. And I get some fresh air or a nice meal at the end of it.’
Unplug from social media
Social media is a blessing and a curse. For those of us whose health conditions limit access to the outside world, it’s a great way of staying in touch. It’s also an effective way to get our opinions heard on the issues that matter to us. Platforms like Twitter have been instrumental in amplifying disabled people’s views.
On the flip side, they can also lead to a feeling you’re missing out. For instance, seeing events in your newsfeed that you can’t attend due to ill health. We can also end up comparing ourselves and our lives to others on social media. In reality people often post about the good stuff in their lives, which makes the comparison unfair on ourselves. Unplug for a few hours, or a whole day – and try out some of the tips in this post instead.
Add your own self care tips!
Above are just a few self care tips. For many more, visit the Blurt Foundation (a mental health charity) website here or check out the Self Care Awareness topic on Twitter. Please share this blog and if you have your own tips to add, share them using #SelfCareAwarenessWeek on Twitter or Facebook. Alternatively, leave me a comment on this post.