Before embarking on my therapist training I had never heard the term ‘self-care’ and assumed it was of those fluffy counsellor type words! However it certainly seems to be becoming more popular now and #selfcaresunday is trending most weeks. But what exactly does Self care mean? Why do we need to do it? And how do we do it?

What?
In a nutshell self-care means doing something that will improve or preserve your health. This isn’t just about physical health though, self-care is all encompassing to ensure spiritual, psychological and emotional health levels are kept well looked after too.

Why?
Research tells us that self-care promotes positive health outcomes, can help us live longer, reduce stress levels, improve resilience and make difficult times feel a little bit more manageable. Learning and getting into the routine of eating right, exercising regularly, adopting a healthy sleep pattern and recognising when you need to take time out are all the basics of good self care.

How?
Saying ‘no’ to others and ‘yes’ to ourselves doesn’t always come easy. Historically the word ‘selfish’ has negative connotations attached to it and people can feel guilty for putting themselves first and making self-care a priority. But times are changing and people are recognising that if you’re not on top form for yourself you can’t be for others.

Here’s 5 easy self-care starters:

Sleep!
We all know the benefits of a good nights’ sleep and how much better we feel after a solid 8 hours but how many follow the advice of no electronic distractions in the bedroom, avoiding caffeine or sugar and not going to bed with a full stomach?

Work out to chill out!
Not only does exercise release mood boosting endorphins it also helps lower stress levels and provides a host of physical health benefits. Even just a 15 minute walk a day can be beneficial – the key is making part of your routine. Exercise also aids peaceful sleep habits!

Pamper yourself!
A spa day is great for the soul and feeling relaxed and pampered can release endorphins and reduce your stress. But you don’t need a full day at the hotel; a nice hair mask, painted nails or bath with some candles can all be as beneficial.

Road-trip!
A day out or weekend away from it all is a great way to unwind, have fun and escape the normal daily grind. Making new memories, exploring new places or re-visiting old favourites can raise our mood hugely. Plan trips ahead so they are something to look forward to.

Turn off the tweets!
There is no denying some of the benefits of social media and the ability we now have to feel connected to friends, family and even celebs. There is however lots of research that shows social media can be as much of a curse as it can a blessing. Try to turn off your tech for an hour or two a day. Call your friends in person rather than texting and buy a newspaper to physically read instead of scrolling through social media pages.

Ultimately – do what you love!
Lots of strategies can be implemented as part of a routine but sometimes it just all feels too much – when that happens take time and do what-ever it is that will help you unwind the most:
Read a book. Watch your favourite TV show. Go on a lunch date with your friend. Take a long walk. Make your favourite meal. Take a duvet day. Play your favourite music and dance in your kitchen!