Making time for self-care



Tomorrow, Self-Care Week begins. Self-Care Week is an annual national awareness week that focuses on embedding support for self-care across communities, families and generations. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately to take of our mental, emotional and physical health.

Although it's a simple concept in theory, it's something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety, good relationship with oneself and others, health and fitness, creativity and resilience. Self-care enables us to work and play and enjoy life more.

In the UK the NHS is making a fundamental shift from a medical model to a wellbeing model. In health care terms that means individuals being empowered to look after themselves proactively on an ongoing lifetime basis rather than seeking treatment when things go wrong. AKA self-care.

A no-brainer all ways round; better health, vitality and independence for people and cheaper to deliver for the UK.

However, shifting from a medical model to wellbeing model is easier said than done.

It's like any behaviour change, it requires a shift in mindset and a shift in habits. As you no doubt know from your own experience, human beings are programmed to resist change, 'better the devil you know!' I'm sure you have experience of continuing to do something, even when you know it's not good for you.

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As a coach to health care professionals and a trainer to health care teams in the empowerment technique of Motivational Interviewing my role is to help individuals change towards looking after themselves better and acting in their best interests more habitually. AKA Self-Care. The change from medical to wellbeing model starts with health care professionals themselves, wellbeing is an inside job.

The NHS environment is exactly the sort of place where it's so easy not to practice self-care. High demand, limited resource, populated by carers who put others first, visible and urgent needs to react to. Of course, similar conditions crop up in many organisations and many lives in one way or another.

The first principle of self-care is about being responsible, not selfish. Think about the safety instructions before a flight, passengers are told to put their own oxygen mask on before helping others. You can't help others if you run out of oxygen. Similarly, you can't contribute your best at work or at home if you're running on empty.

The first step of self-care is deciding to prioritise what nurtures you and build that into your regular routines as a matter of habit. I recommend giving yourself time right now to consider how you might benefit from putting self-care at the top of your to-do list.

Here's a short video to get you in the mood:

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