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What does self-care mean and why is it important?

February 20, 2018
what does self-care mean

What do we mean by self-care?

Nowadays, it seems there is a whole lifestyle being sold on self-care with scented candles, luxury bubble bath and turmeric based drinks all designed to improve our health and wellbeing. Posts on Instagram portray carefully curated images of must-have products all selling the self-care dream. But if we strip all of this away, what does the phrase self-care actually mean? Is it just candles and bath oils, or something much more meaningful?

Having come of age in the 90s, the term ‘self-care’ is fairly new to me and something I always thought meant simply looking after yourself. And to a degree, that’s pretty much what it is. Self-care is any activity we do in order to look after our mental, emotional and physical health. It is key to keeping ourselves well; maintaining our immune systems and mental wellbeing.

yes, it may be as simple as running a relaxing bubble bath or lighting a scented candle; for others, it may be the key to getting themselves out of bed in the morning.

Why you need to look after yourself

Physical and mental health obviously differs from person to person. It also changes throughout our lives. This is where the concept of self-care can’t really be prescriptive: for some people, yes, it may be as simple as running a relaxing bubble bath or lighting a scented candle; for others, it may be the key to getting themselves out of bed in the morning.

On this basis, I do think it’s important not to dismiss self-care as just a luxury or a lifestyle aspiration. It can be critical to someone’s recovery from illness or being able to maintain to hold down a job. It’s also not just about wellness but ensuring lots of parts of our lives are in balance including our finances. As someone who has had my fair share of debts in the past, I know the stress it causes when you’re not sure if your paycheck will last you the month.

For me, I definitely know self-care is something I need to concentrate on more. My face takes on a greyish pallor when I haven’t been eating and sleeping properly. I also start to feel exhausted and run down. I need to get better at recognising that self-care is preventative action rather than something I do after running myself into the ground.

How to put self-care in place

One of the easiest ways to look at how best to support yourself is to do a self-care audit. This helps you identify what areas of life you need to focus on and to think about the actions you’ll put in place. It’s worth doing this every six months or so because life changes and your self-care needs will change with it.

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Five ways to drink more water

February 10, 2018
ways to drink more water

As someone who is approaching middle-age, I can tell when I’ve not been drinking enough water. My skin looks tired and far more wrinkly. A night drinking vino shows on my face… Without enough water, I also end up feeling dehydrated and lacking in energy. So this is why I made a resolution to myself that I would make sure I drink at least two litres of water a day. However, as someone who reaches for a coffee first thing,  it’s not always that easy. This is why I’ve tried to think of new ways to drink more water.

So these are my five ways to increase your water intake.

  1. Start the day with hot water and lemon. It’s great for flushing your system out and rehydrates you straightaway. I cut my lemon up the night before to save time in the morning so all I need to do is add hot water and I take it with me in my KeepCup to the station.
  2. Add flavour by adding mint, cucumber, lemon, ginger etc. I’m actually really good at drinking water at work (due to point 3), just not so great at home. I’ve found if I add mint to a carafe, I find it a much more enjoyable and interesting drink (basically I try to kid myself I’m in a restaurant).
  3. Buy a large bottle with reminders drawn on it to remind you when to drink. This has been the biggest game changer for me: partly because we only have tiny glasses at work and I tend to forget to refill it; and secondly, it really prompts me to check how much I’ve drunk. I bought one from Hydratem8 but you could easily buy a plain bottle and mark it yourself.
  4. Carry water with you. If I’m out and about, generally I will wait until I feel ridiculously parched before I will go out in search of somewhere to buy it. I tend to fill my bottle half full (it can be heavy otherwise) and it really makes a difference
  5. Remember there is water in lots of other things. Cucumber, celery, tomatoes and fruits such as watermelon and grapes all contain water. I tend to go for a camomile tea in the afternoon, which is a great way of drinking water with other health benefits too.
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