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What is self-care?

Self-care is any activity that we undertake in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety, as well as a path to a good relationship with oneself and others.
                         Here are a few simple ways to practice self-care at home: 

1. Make sleep a priority
Sleep is incredibly important for how we feel both emotionally and physically. Any disruption to our nightly routine may cause a havoc with our health. Avoiding consumption of caffeine and sugar just before bedtime, minimising distractions in the bedroom (TV, telephones, laptops) and light-blocking curtains will all help to drift asleep and stay asleep. Also, sticking to regular timings when it comes to going to bed and getting up helps to assure a fair amount of sleep every night. If you still find yourself stressed and unable to switch off, having a calming bath will assist in relaxation and calming the mind.
2. Take care of your gut
The types of food you eat crucially impacts the bacteria that live in your stomach – an unhappy gut can lead to unhappy person. Eat a fair amount of fruit and vegetables, lean protein like fish, chicken or turkey, coupled with yoghurt or cheese and some wholegrain carbohydrates will ensure your gut is functioning to its optimum. Minimising overly spicy, highly processed food and alcohol ensures that your stomach is not subjected to unnecessary strain while digesting. Having a herbal tea after a meal (fennel, peppermint, chamomile) also aids digestion.
3.Exercise daily
We all know exercise is good for you, but what is our exercise when options are limited? There is a plethora of exercise videos available online, and some TV channels even broadcast daily exercise routine with few well known sports coaches. If that is to strenuous for you, simply walking up and down the stairs several times a day could get your heart rate up. Alternatively, going out for a walk (with a member of family or a pet) is bound to lift your mood and refresh you. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, some time spent gardening, pruning and repotting, as well as planting some easy-growing herbs and vegetables will leave you feeling serene (and there is an added bonus of growing your own food).
4. Make time for relaxation
Faced with a situation that is beyond our control, every one of us will react with elevated levels of stress and anxiety. Such a state is not beneficial for either our mental or physical health. If at all possible, best practice is to allocate some time every day for a relaxing activity, something that makes you take time out from your daily duties and focuses your attention on here and now. Good examples of such an activity are: doing crosswords/puzzles; reading an engaging book, undertaking a craft project (knitting, painting, sewing, jewellery making), meditating or writing a diary.
These simple points will hopefully remind us that self-love is the most important aspect of self-care, and without it we cannot be expected to help ourselves or others.
Milena Rouse, green spaces community worker, PSBL