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Self-care is about the choices we make every day to stay happy and healthy. These include the small things we do like getting enough sleep, to bigger self-care choices, such as going to see a counsellor or attending an anger management course.
Why is self-care important?
Self-care is an important part of managing difficult feelings and helps us to keep safe when we are struggling and overwhelmed. Lots of young people say that when they feel down, depressed, anxious or suicidal they struggle to do the little things to take care of themselves. This might include brushing our teeth, making sure we get enough sleep, eating regularly or keeping on top of chores. When these things feel so difficult, it’s understandable that bigger self-care tasks, such as attending health appointments or taking time to relax, can be difficult to manage.
How can I make sure I am looking after myself?
Try some activity scheduling. You can try planning your week, maybe breaking the days down into sections. Next, try to think of things you should do to take care of yourself that maybe you haven’t been doing and ask yourself which of these feels most achievable. You can then try scheduling this in. Remember, it’s OK to start small and when you feel more able you can start to plan more challenging activities – such as attending a meditation class or socialising with friends. This type of activity scheduling is known as behavioural activation and it’s something that some therapists use to get people more used to taking care of themselves and doing meaningful activities.
Another important aspect of self-care is self-compassion. Be kind to yourself – especially when you are struggling. We often can have high expectations of ourselves and feel frustrated or annoyed with ourselves if we don’t meet them. We can also engage in negative self-talk saying things to ourselves that are very unkind. Some days you might feel very productive and capable. Other days you might feel overwhelmed and that you can’t cope. This is OK. It is important to remember that the more compassion and kindness you show yourself on the days when you feel overwhelmed, the quicker you can get back to feeling better again. It can be really helpful to write some positive things about yourself on the days where you feel okay and then put them somewhere you can see them for those days where you find it hard to see anything positive.
Self-help strategies are important too. Self-help strategies can include; mindfulness and meditation, breathing exercises, alternatives to harmful behaviour, distraction techniques, help to self-soothe, and expressing how you are feeling. Examples of these are below;