Self-care is any necessary action or behaviour that helps a person avoid health problems and supports general physical and mental wellbeing. The term ‘self-care’ is sometimes confused with being self-indulgent or self-absorbed. In fact, if someone takes steps to practice self-care, thereby improving their general health and wellbeing, they are more likely to be able to help support others. Furthermore, a study in the British Journal of Nursing found that the stress endured by student nurses impacted their overall wellbeing which could reduce the level of care they provide to their patients. This demonstrates the importance of self-care and how it not only benefits the individual but also others.
To mark Self Care Week (16-22 November), we’ve put together a list of practical self-care techniques that you can incorporate into your working day to support your health and wellbeing. We hope you’ll try some of these and eventually incorporate other positive changes into your daily routine.
1. Meditate for five minutes before you start your day
You can find short, guided meditations online and on apps like Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer. If you can’t bring yourself to meditate, try a breathing or gentle stretching exercise to relieve any tension and increase blood flow throughout your body.
2. Make sure you eat a nutritious breakfast every morning
Eating a balanced, nutritious breakfast will help you make better choices throughout the day as you’ll be less likely to have a mid-morning (or mid-afternoon!) slump. Replenishing your body after the overnight fasting period fuels and nourishes your body and boosts your energy levels for the day ahead.
3. Write out your daily to-do list
Plan your day by writing out your to-do list before your work day begins so you can stay focused and organised. It’s a good idea to plan your list at the end of the day so your mind is decluttered and you’re ready to start work the next morning. Structuring your day so you can work on particular tasks or projects during specific time slots in the day will also help you prioritise your workload and stay focused.
4. Try to engage in some physical activity every day
Anything that gets your body moving, especially in the great outdoors, will energise you and boost your creativity and focus. A brisk 10-minute walk can make a huge difference and if you can’t get outside you could always walk on the spot or dance to some of your favourite songs to get your body moving.
5. Take a proper lunch break
Instead of eating lunch in front of your computer, take your lunch break away from your work station and try to switch off for while – this will restore you and help you refocus and improve your productivity for the rest of the day.
6. Develop healthy sleep habits
Developing a sleep routine will help if you have problems getting to sleep. Try to set time aside to wind down before you go to sleep. Gentle stretching or breathing exercises and meditation can help you decompress. Instead of scrolling through your phone, try reading instead. A Sleep Junkie survey found that 50 per cent of readers sleep better and they also sleep an hour and a half more per week than non-readers.
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