Self-care is essential now. We have all been through unexpected changes since the start of the pandemic and lockdown. Many people’s lives have been turned upside down through bereavement, relationship problems, ill health and financial and economic difficulties.
So self-care is essential to us all. Some people think that they just want to get on with life. Other people use work as a distraction, and some just don’t consider the importance of looking after themselves. But why is this?
Perhaps people think that self-care takes too much time and effort. There is also a fear that it will cost money.
What is self-care?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that self-care is
‘The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease and maintain health and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.’
Self-care is about being kind to yourself and getting the right balance between work and lifestyle choices. It’s about using the knowledge and skills of self-preservation to live a healthy life because a lack of self-care can result in ill health, especially in these turbulent times.
Self-care can fall into four broad categories
Here are five free ways to manage your self-care.
One way to manage your self-care is to go for a walk every day. It could also be a jog.
The benefit of jogging or walking is that they are free to do. According to the National Health Service, many physical and mental health benefits exist when you practice a brisk walk. You get exercise as you allow your body to move naturally. You get fresh air. Also, you increase your heart rate slightly so circulating oxygen around the body. It helps to boost your immune system.
Exercise can also mean increasing your everyday activity. For example, you could take the stairs rather than the lift. You could park the car a bit further away, and you could stand and have breaks away from your computer if you are a sedentary worker.
None of these things cost money, just some changes to your usual practice.
2. Stay connected with people.
Self-care is about making friends and keeping in contact with them. It’s about listening to others and not making lots of judgements about them. Instead, it’s just about getting to know people.
Friendships are part of our human needs. We need that sense of community and other people to talk to and have fun with. This contributes to good mental health.
There are lots of free ways to get that human connection. For example, if you feel lonely or need someone to talk to, pick up the phone and give friends and family calls.
Smile and say good morning to your neighbour.
Be friendly and talk to the staff when shopping.
Join a free walking group in your local area.
3. Surround yourself with positive people.
Self-care is about being with people you like and those who have a good influence on you. If you mix with positive people who have similar views, are resilient and want to support you, you will feel better.
4. Get enough sleep.
It’s really easy to get home from work, watch the TV or play games online till the early hours, but we all need sufficient sleep to repair and grow. If you think you are struggling to get up in the morning and feel tired, check if you are getting enough sleep.
5. Learn to relax
Everyone needs to find ways to relax. This could be by watching a good comedy show, reading a book, going on holiday or easy and often free activities like having a relaxing bath, listening to music or meditating.
Sometimes you need help to relax.
So you could book a massage or use complementary therapies such as reflexology.
You could talk to a counsellor.
Hypnotherapy helps people relax their minds and bodies.
In summary, self-care is essential, and it doesn’t always need to cost you a lot of money; in fact, many things are free.