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The importance of self-care

During the pandemic, it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced feelings of anxiety and uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent. There’s no doubt that the situation has had an impact on the mental health of each and every one of us in some way. So, if there was ever a time to start taking (better) care of ourselves, it’s now. 

The importance of self-care

What is self-care?

Self-care is a process of doing all the essential things each of us do on a daily basis to take care of ourselves. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy defines self-care as, “making a conscious effort to maintain, improve and repair your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellness.” (BACP, 2020, p.4).

Why is self-care so important?

If we don’t take good care of ourselves then we can’t be effective in our daily lives. Taking care of ourselves enables us to do all the things that we want to do and to be who we want to be. Caring for self therefore is not just important, it’s essential. 

Here, I share some information and resources for self-care during the pandemic;

Caring for our head (mental wellness)

Check out these eight tips for relaxation, put together by Mind: https://youtu.be/cyEdZ23Cp1E
Struggling with anxiety and stress? Have a look at the Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook from The Wellness Society: https://thewellnesssociety.org/free-coronavirus-anxiety-workbook/.
Try a Reading Well book, available via the Books on Prescription scheme: https://reading-well.org.uk/books/books-on-prescription/mental-health
Support and improve your mental wellbeing with Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/wellbeing/wellbeing/#collapse98667.

Caring for our heart (emotional wellness)

Keep a personal journal or diary to free yourself from difficult or overwhelming feelings.
Try mindfulness:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
Practice self-compassion - be kind to yourself: https://self-compassion.org/. Remember, this is not a normal situation, things will not feel normal.
Learn more about the emotional impact of Covid-19 and how to better support yourself: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/psychological-first-aid-covid-19.

Caring for our body (physical wellness)

Make time to eat well, and regularly. 
Try to get good quality sleep: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/sleep/.
Exercise, it stimulates endorphins for an instant mood fix.
Make time to make (and keep) medical appointments.
Think about your physical environment, surround yourself with things you love, or alternatively, have a declutter. 

Caring for our soul (spiritual wellness)

Think about what gives you meaning and purpose in life, and how you can engage with this.
Try meditation, download the Headspace app: https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app
Listen to your favourite music.
Immerse yourself in nature.
Read a good book. “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are” (Mason Cooley).

Caring for our self-in-relation (relational wellness)

Maintain your human connections with others (this can be really important if you find yourself isolated or alone). 
Focus on nurturing those relationships in your life that are caring and supportive.
If you can’t be with significant others in person, get together virtually.

Remember, self-care is an ongoing process - it can, and will, change over time - and everyone’s way of looking after themselves is different. If you’re struggling to find what works for you, think about how you managed difficult or stressful times in the past, what did you do to cope?

For lots more self-care resources and information, visit Blurt: https://www.blurtitout.org/resource/self-care-info/

 

 

References
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (2020). Self-care for the counselling professions. Good Practice in Action 088: Fact Sheet Resource. 

 

About the Author

Dr Nina Martin

Nina is a Senior Lecturer in the Psychology Group. Nina is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Nina is also a practicing Psychotherapist.

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