You may not be a professional carer, it doesn’t mean you don’t look after people. Good managers look after their team, just like parents look after their family. So, who looks after you?
Often the answer is you – you need to look after you, especially if you are responsible for looking after other people. Because let’s face it if you don’t look after you, it isn’t just you that suffers, it is those who you look after that will also suffer.
So how can you look after you? What should you be doing? You are the person who knows the answer, because you know what you need, enjoy and value. If you are struggling at this point, maybe think about what you don’t like, enjoy or value – thinking about what we don’t want or need can often help us realise what we do need.
You need to make sure you have sometime for you – just you. This can be a simple thing like taking your coffee outside, sitting under a tree listening to the birds and enjoying the natural surroundings. It could be going for a run or a swim. It could be safeguarding time to watch your favourite TV programme or cooking your favourite meal. Whatever it is it needs to resonate with you and be right for you. Your time should be something you look forward to, cherish and enjoy.
Life is busy, so start small. Yes, you might need a holiday or a whole day doing ‘nothing’. Great if you are able to do this, however if not start with just a little bit of time for you and build on it. Often the reason people don’t achieve their goals is because they are too big. So, start with small steps, value your achievements and build on them. Build your time into your daily and weekly routine, the more you do it the easier it will be and the more rewarded you will feel. Overtime it will become a positive habit.
When someone asks you how are you? How do you respond? Most people automatically reply – “all good” or “fine” – even when they are not. Start with being honest – if you are not okay then say so. This acknowledgement then gives you the opportunity to consider what it is that is causing you to not be “good” or “great” and to think about how you could improve things. Thinking about what you could do is the first step to making it happen, yes you still need to take action, however having thought about it you are better placed to make sure what you do is right for you. Make sure it is what you want and not what you think other people expect or would like you to do. For you to be healthy you need to live your life for you on your terms, not try and live a life designed for you by others.
Being well is so much more than physical. Too many people associate being “well” or “healthy” or “fit” with being physically toned. Physical fitness is important, but our mental health and social health is equally important. Taking timeout to reflect, to focus on us, training our brains, thinking positively, meditating – or whatever works for you to keep your mind healthy is critical to your overall health. A positive mindset leads to a healthy you.
Social fitness is also important. What I mean by this is the right support network, friends, colleagues, champions. If the influence around you is negative. If your friends berate you, put you down, disrespect you and don’t support you then you will find it hard to perform to your best and your health is likely to suffer as a result. Often it is family and close friends that hold expectations of us that we feel we have to live up to. We are in control of ourselves and no one else. If we can let go of the expectations of others, we will be far healthier and be free to follow our own dreams and aspirations.
So yes, go to the gym, go for a walk or a swim, but also consider your mental and social health when thinking about your overall health and happiness. It is up to us to look after ourselves. This way we are in control and able look after those around us and support them to reach their full potential, while living a happy and fulfilling life.