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National Self-Care Week: Self-supporting Amidst a National Lockdown

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 | Uncategorized

If you hadn’t already guessed from the title, it’s National Self-Care Week. Many of us often put others before our own personal needs, because it’s often easier to spot when others need help. Whether you’re looking after a relative, a close friend, or helping a stranger, it’s important to take the time to care for yourself. Self-care manifests in different ways though, depending on the individual, their personal needs and the environment and social structure they live in. We’re going to discuss some different ways we can care for ourselves amidst a country in lockdown when feelings of loneliness are prominent. 

Even though self-care is important, there is no replacement for genuine support and advice your GP or local health practice can provide. If you think you might live with depression, anxiety or any other mental health illness, please visit the link below and get in touch with someone who can support you. 

NHS Mental Health Support 

Just a few years ago, the idea of working from home could have been seen as something quite enjoyable. Being able to work in the place you feel most comfortable, potentially surrounded by loved ones or friends doesn’t sound too bad. And in most realities, it can be quite nice. Unfortunately, working from home amidst a lockdown is a bit of a double-edged sword. Where work and home life were previously separate, making them much easier to compartmentalise, now work and life blend into one. This can make it hard for people to switch off after work, a problem many people who work from home have been dealing with for years.

Fortunately, there are a few distinct steps you can take to limit crossover. If you’ve got a work laptop, try to work away from where you would normally relax or rest. Creating the divide within your home will allow you to split the two aspects of your life up and make relaxing in your downtime much easier. It’s also important to set strict work hours, it’s all too easy to work past your usual finish time and only realise you have done many hours later. Work-fatigue not only makes you less productive, but it can also adversely affect your mental health!

Feelings of loneliness have also increased this year throughout every demographic of society. Those living in care homes have seen themselves shut off from the outside world because of the ongoing pandemic. People who live alone have been limited to who they can spend time with, leading many to stay indoors. Families and friends have completely changed the way they interact, so it’s only natural that so many of us miss the company of others.

There isn’t a replacement for physically spending time with friends, but socialising is still an important part of self-care. Fortunately, the internet exists! There are countless ways you can spend time with friends and family on the internet. Whether it’s a group video call, a weekly ‘pub quiz’ or watching a movie together, it’s important to spend time speaking with those you care most about. The simple act of meeting face-to-face with friends releases a cocktail of positive chemicals in the brain which help fight the likes of depression and anxiety. While this isn’t exactly the same, it’s still going to have a positive effect on your mental health.

As we have previously mentioned, feelings of loneliness have been especially prominent in the elderly community throughout this year. Fortunately, a handful of care homes are currently testing a scheme which lets family members test for COVID, with clear tests granting them the opportunity to visit loved ones. As far as self-care goes, socialising with family is vital to both your own and others’ mental health, so this is a big step in the right direction for care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic - and it is.

Self-care doesn’t always have to be a grand activity though, it can be a tiny change that helps. You might decide to spend half an hour a day reading, or maybe you’ll start going for a short run in the mornings. Regardless of what works for you, it’s just about taking the time out of your daily routine to do something that’s just for you and no one else. If you take even one thing away from this blog, please let it be that you take a few moments for yourself each day. It’s the first step in practicing better self-care.

As the great American Poet and Civil Rights activist Maya Angelou once said:

"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others."

In these times, caring for others is incredibly important, which is why we are incredibly excited about the Only Connect Postcard challenge. Ran by NAPA (National Activity Providers Association), the Arts in Care Homes initiative aims to connect people with those in care homes. In a year rife with loneliness, sending a postcard, email or letter to care home residents really could make all the difference in the world. If you would like to help yourself by helping others, please click the link below to find out more. 

Only Connect Pen Pals Information Sheet

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