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Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 - Self-care isn't selfish!

The Greater Manchester Housing First pilot and the Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust have worked together to support some of the most vulnerable people in the 10 boroughs and our Dual Diagnosis Practitioners use their unique expertise to provide support to those on the pilot.

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, this blog is from Dual Diagnosis Practitioner Jade Elliott, and explores the topic of self-care.

What does self-care mean? Is it selfish to self-care? And, how do we “do it”?

What do you consider to be the most important lesson learned while living through a global pandemic, trying to hold a job down, doing everything possible to protect your loved ones and keeping your stuff together?

Well for me, if the past year has taught me anything, it has taught me that taking care of myself has been my power in the taking care of others, and has been an essential component in managing my stress levels, preventing burnout and maintaining my well-being and happiness, as well as my marriage!

Self-care doesn’t mean that you are selfish just because you need to stop and recharge.

Self-care practices are different for everyone and by ensuring that you are taking care of yourself you are giving the world; the people you work with (colleagues and people you support), your loved ones, your communities etc, the best of you, instead of what is left of you!

It’s important to remember that self-care is an absolute necessity – not a luxury – in the work that we do. We work in very demanding roles, in environments that are continuously changing and more often than not unpredictable. Self-care does not have to be complicated.

Ultimately self-care is about setting boundaries identifying priorities and finding purpose.

Self-care allows you to:

  • Be more self-aware

  • Recognise limitations – reduce/avoid stress, ‘burnout’

  • Share experiences, and feel more supported

  • Identify what you need to do to relax, switch off – disconnect to reconnect

  • Helps you to find balance

  • Makes working together as a team more effective

  • Promotes self-compassion - learning to be kind to yourself

So, how do we “do it”?

Well-being is a state of mind, a collective consciousness, a change in lifestyle. When it starts in your mind it can have lasting effects on your life.

There are four key dimensions of self-care – mental/psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Now, have a little think about your self-care practices. Do you “do it”? How do you “do it”?

However you chose to “do it”, find time during your jam-packed workday to take a mindful moment, this will help to refresh your brain, replenish your senses, and lead to better happier work. Chose activities that you can schedule into your day that provides you with a sense of self-care.

Here’s something to try now…

Breathing for living is a nice easy desk exercise (from yoga) that you can do ‘on the job’. It will stimulate the parasympathetic system (the parasympathetic system is responsible for the body’s rest and digestion response when the body is relaxed: Inner peace and calm), as well as giving your neck a good stretch! Take a mindful moment to refresh your brain.

  • Sit in a chair with a straight back and legs uncrossed, hands on the thighs/lap.

  • Close or lower eyes if would like

  • Start to concentrate on breathing - doing long inhales and exhales - fill your tummy with air (do 2-3)

  • Keeping your back straight tilt your head to the right shoulder (if no neck issues, otherwise just breath)

  • Breath in as you roll your neck around the back to your left shoulder

  • Pause

  • Exhale by rolling front ways to the right shoulder (do 2-3)

  • Pause

  • Reverse (breathing in at the front and out at back).

You can do this as many times as you want/have time for. It’s brilliant for giving your neck a good stretch too, after sitting at a screen all day!

Grounding is also a wonderful thing! I have found this to be really useful when my thoughts are running away with me. Grounding techniques can help you to feel anchored in the present and restore balance in your body and mind.

Here’s how to do it. Give it a go. Focus on your breathing then identify...

  • 5 things you can see

  • 4 things you can touch

  • 3 things you can hear

  • 2 things you can smell

  • 1 thing you can taste.

Thanks for reading, and remember, make time for you: Self-care isn’t selfish!


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