What is self care? The dictionary defines it as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”, but in reality, self-care is different for everyone.

For many, the last year has been a very stressful time, in many instances more stressful than many of us realised. Being able to recognise when you need to take some time out to practice self-care can be difficult but even if you think you are ok, try and schedule in a little time each week to have some ‘you’ time, away from the pressures of daily life.

My top tip would be to find something that makes you happy. For you it might be a soak in the bath reading a good book, listening to a podcast or an hour of meditation or just a 30 minute sit on a bench in your garden listening to the birds. For me it’s a long walk across the fields where I live.

Walking is one of those things that can take you away from the day to day, even for a short period of time. I always turn off my phone whilst I’m walking so my brain gets a chance to rest. I can physically feel tension draining from my shoulders as they start to relax and as I walk, I keep my head up, eyes and ears open and start drinking in the sights and sounds around me. I’ve had my best and most creative ideas when I am out walking and have made important decisions and worked through problems that sat at my desk, I had no chance of achieving! Being in nature boosts mood, sharpens thinking, and makes you feel calmer.

Other ways of caring for yourself include eating well and developing a regular sleep routine as well as taking regular lunch breaks! Not taking rest breaks at work can have a huge impact on your productivity and more importantly your mental health!

Sometimes it’s about saying no to something you don’t want to do. Many of us say yes to things that we don’t want to do. Before you say yes, think about this. Will the opportunity help you to grow and make you happy, and add to your self-care or, will it add stress, or be detrimental to your mental health, self-worth and self-care? If so, have the strength to say no. Say yes when it feels good and no when you need to focus on you!

If you are a parent or carer. It can be so easy to put someone else’s needs first, but you must look after your own health too. You don’t have to be everything for everyone so it’s important to give yourself the space you need to be happy. Saying that, your self-care might be spending time with the people you love and forgetting work for a few hours.

Whatever your self-care go to is, make sure you practice it often and you’ll see the effect it has on every part of your life both at home and at work.