How to: practise self-care

To work in the NHS where caring for others is at the very heart of everything that you do, it’s no surprise that so many of you forget to practice what you preach and care for yourselves.

Self-care is a term that has been gaining more and more momentum over recent years but what exactly does it mean?

Self-care is to value yourself, your relationships and your professional life by taking steps to enhance, re-evaluate, and re-focus your life. This can be anything, such as sitting down and relaxing for 5 minutes or treating yourself.

Why is it so important?

Self-care is vital in reducing the effects of stress in your daily life. Some stress can focus you and have a positive effect but when it gets to be too much it can start impacting all areas of your life. By practising self-care, you can ensure that your stress levels stay at a manageable level, so you can function at full capacity both in work, and out of it.

Mind.org.uk also say ‘’Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems. They may also help prevent some problems from developing or getting worse.’’ Highlighting the importance of looking after your own mental well-being.

 

 

“To look after yourself and to recognise when you need to do this is not selfish. Be good to yourself”

 

 

 

What steps can you take?

Make time for therapeutic activities; do things that you know have a relaxing effect such as:

  • Listening to music
  • Having a bubble bath
  • Read a book
  • Go for a walk in the countryside
  • Drawing/colouring in
  • Baking
  • Catch up on your latest TV series
  • Taking deep breaths

Practise mindfulness; being more aware of the present moment can help you sort your thoughts and feelings towards a situation

Mindful.org has these steps on how to practise mindfulness

  1. Take a seat. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
  2. Set a time limit. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
  3. Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, in lotus posture, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
  4. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in.
  5. Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
  6. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.

Spend time with your friends; often work and your home life can over-take your social life. Take the time to spend time with your friends, enjoying the things you like to do together.

Simplify your schedule; Sometimes you can over commit yourself to a variety of different engagements. Simplify your schedule and learn to say no so that you can concentrate on yourself

Exercise your body and mind; This will keep you fitter, and more energetic as well as broadening your mind.

  • Take up jogging
  • Sign up to a gym class
  • Start yoga
  • Meditate
  • Learn a language
  • Learn a new skill
  • Take up a new hobby

 

To look after yourself and to recognise when you need to do this is not selfish. Be good to yourself.

About the author

NHS Professionals administrator

NHS Professionals manages the temporary staffing needs of around 66 NHS Trusts across England. An integral part of the NHS, it aims to reduce Trusts’ spending on flexible workers without compromising quality, by providing greater transparency of demand and supplying bank staff at the best possible rate. Its bank of more than 40,000 flexible workers comprises general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, admin/clerical , allied health professionals, healthcare scientists, support services among other healthcare professionals.

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