Looking after yourself and why it's important

We can all be guilty of putting others before ourselves too often, and this is especially common for those who are parents and/or carers of children with long term health conditions like JIA. Here are some of the common warning signs, that might mean it’s time to seriously start thinking about yourself.

  1. You’re on edge and easily troubled. You feel crushed or trampled from all angles
  2. You feel more tired than usual, and this can’t be explained by an increase in activity
  1. You’re finding you pick up colds and illnesses more than usual
  2. You don’t feel inspired or stimulated to try anything new or creative
  3. You can’t remember the last time you went out with friends, or enjoyed your favourite ice cream or read a good book
  4. You get irritated easily and snap for no reason
  5. Relationships with friends and loved ones are falling apart
  6. You are misusing substances to get you through the day
  7. You dread going into work and just can’t be bothered with your work load

Many of us feel guilty about “me time”. You might be asking for a day off from work and taking yourself somewhere for the day on your own or locking the bathroom door and having a long soak with your headphones on; whatever it is, it can feel wrong to take time out for ourselves.

How to Recharge

Don’t underestimate how much better, stronger and able to cope you will feel once you start to regularly look after yourself as well as others.

Having a brief mental break can help you feel more refreshed and look at the jobs ahead with a more positive outlook.

Humour is a great stress buster. Watching something on the TV, listening to something that really makes you laugh or catching up with friends  will not only help your mood but also the stress hormones that can build up. Laughter also releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Social time is particularly important for happiness; if you have strong relationships with friends and family you are much more likely to be able to handle stressful situations. As we get older and take on more responsibility, the opportunity for coffee dates and catch-ups in person or on the phone get less. Good connections give us a sense of wellbeing and contentment and being able to give and receive a hug from a good friend or family member will give you a sense of belonging, being loved and valued.

A key part of looking after yourself is engaging in activities that bring you pleasure. Activities that seize your attention, whether in a calm and quiet way or exciting way.

Here are some examples to think about, and if you haven’t tried some them, why not give them a go.

  • Reading
  • Writing stories
  • Writing about your thoughts and feelings
  • Running
  • Hiking
  • Gardening
  • Taking pictures
  • Painting
  • Baking
  • Biking
  • Building something
  • Browsing bookstores or libraries
  • Colouring
  • Cooking
  • Practising yoga
  • Sewing
  • Singing
  • Swimming
  • Swinging a golf club or tennis racket
  • Dancing
  • Drawing
  • Fishing
  • Writing letters
  • Walking

Treat yourself and ignite your senses, give yourself permission to enjoy, have some fun and feel satisfied and remember that when you take care of yourself, its puts you in the best position to look after others. 

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