Self-care week reminds us to exercise self-care for life

Self Care Week is the annual national event that raises awareness of what we can all do to improve our physical health and mental wellbeing. This year, the theme is Exercise Self Care for Life.

Self care is about more than just doing a face-mask, it’s about taking control of your own health, keeping fit and health, understanding when you can look after yourself, and when to get advice from a healthcare professional. If you have a long-term condition, self care is about understanding that condition and how to live with it.

This week is the perfect time to think about how we live our lives and make some small changes that will improve our health and wellbeing, and that of our family. That could be looking at what we eat and drink, how much exercise we do, and how we’re looking after our physical and mental health.

Here are some of our top tips to exercise self-care for life:

Have a well-stocked medicine cabinet

Have things in the house that can be used to treat most minor ailments. This should include:

  • Paracetamol and aspirin, and equivalent syrups (such as Calpol) for children
  • Cold and cough medicines, and lozenges for sore throats
  • Mild laxatives to relieve constipation
  • Rehydration mixtures for diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Indigestion remedy
  • Thermometer to check for fever
  • Range of plasters, bandages and dressings
  • Antiseptic wipes to clean cuts before they’re dressed
  • Travel sickness tablets

Know where to go

Knowing what to do and where to go for help is an important part of practising self care for life. Remember, it isn’t just the GP practice that can help, pharmacies are also health experts. They are on every High Street and can help with all sorts of ailments. Pharmacists can also signpost you to the right place for additional health advice or treatment

The Self-Care Forum has a series of fact sheets to help you take care of the most common ailments: what you can expect to happen, how to self care and when you should contact the NHS. Research shows that people using the fact sheets felt more able to manage their common condition.

Eat a balanced diet

Having a diet that’s rich in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fat, salt and sugar will not only make you feel better but will have a positive impact on your health. The key to a healthy diet is to eat the right amount of calories for how active you are; eat or drink too much and you’ll put on weight because the energy you don’t use is stored as fat, and eat or drink too little and you’ll lose weight. Discover top tips for healthy eating on the NHS website.

Be active

Being active is great for your physical and mental health, and it’s not about running a marathon or playing competitive sports. Being active is about walking more, using the stairs instead of the lift, doing something you enjoy that increases your heartrate.

Adults should be active for at least 150 minutes each week, children aged 5-16 years should be active for at least 60 minutes per day and kids under 5 need 3 hours of activity a day.

Energise Me in Hampshire aims to create happier, healthier and stronger communities through sport and activity. You can find activities on their website as well as tips for getting active at work and home.

Enjoy a healthier lifestyle

It’s never too late to switch to a healthier lifestyle – for you and those around you. Children who learn healthy habits at a young age will benefit from them throughout their life.

The most common ways to improve your health is by eating well, quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol – and there are lots of NHS resources to help:

  • Smoking facts, advice and support
  • Alcohol facts, advice and support

These resources are from the NHS Live Well website which has lots of other useful information around mental wellbeing, healthy weight, sleep, sexual health and more.

Get outside daily

You should try to get outside in natural daylight as much as possible as vitamin D helps to keep our muscles, bones and teeth healthy, as well as providing stimulation for the brain and making us feel happier. If you can’t get outside, consider taking vitamin D supplements, especially during the winter months.

Get your vaccinations

Whether it’s your annual flu jab or COVID-19 vaccination or booster, it’s important to boost your immunity, especially in winter. Getting these jabs help to protect ourselves but also those around us – particularly those who are most vulnerable.

Look out for each other

While self care is predominantly about looking after your own health, it’s also about checking in on each other and looking out for those around you. Whether it’s an elderly relative or neighbour, friend or family member you haven’t seen for a while, or someone you see every day – check in on them and keep in touch regularly to make sure they’re okay

Why is it important?

The important thing to remember is, practising self care is something we all need to do every day. For ourselves. For our families. And for the NHS. It helps to build confidence for those living with long-term health conditions, encourages people to stay well and healthy, and provides support for those dealing with short-term illnesses and ailments.

You can read more about self-care through the Self Care Forum.