The Self-Care Handbook - Gill Hasson - E-Book

The Self-Care Handbook E-Book

Gill Hasson

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Beschreibung

Learn how to improve and maintain your health and wellbeing with a practical and achievable self-care guide Are you looking after yourself? For so for many of us, with so much to do and think about, self care - taking care of our mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing - often falls by the wayside. The Self-Care Handbook equips you to make positive, helpful choices for incorporating self-care into your life. It explains how to take responsibility for your own wellbeing and provides ideas and practical advice on how you can better look after yourself. Bestselling author Gill Hasson shows you how to develop the mindset, routines and habits that can protect, maintain and improve your health and wellbeing. The Handbook presents straightforward approaches that can help you feel good about yourself, manage stress and anxiety, achieve a work-life balance, increase your physical health and much more. This book will help you: * Encourage a positive, healthy relationship with yourself and strengthen your wellbeing * Understand and implement the factors that can protect, maintain and improve your mental and physical health and wellbeing * Manage overwhelm and simplify a busy life * Know how best to relax, switch off and enjoy yourself * Look after yourself when you're going through difficulties, setbacks or a crisis The Self-Care Handbook is an important resource for anyone wishing to integrate healthy behaviours and activities and look after their physical and mental wellbeing.

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Table of Contents

Cover

Introduction

1 What and Why Self-Care?

Knowing Yourself

Self-Care; Self-Indulgent?

What's Stopping You?

PART I: Care for Your Mind

2 Accept Yourself

Catch the Critic

Challenge Your Inner Critic

Give the Inner Critic a Name

Stop That Thought

Engage with Your Inner Advocate

Recognize that Critical Thoughts Aren't Helping You

Moving on to Positive Thoughts

The Power of ‘But’ and ‘And’

Get Some Perspective

Be Aware of the Comparison Trap

3 Feel Good About Yourself

Recognize Your Skills

Recognize Your Efforts, Achievements, and Successes

Take a Compliment

Do Things You Enjoy

4 Stop Doing so Much

Why Can't You Let Go?

Identify Your Commitments

Identify What's Important and What You Enjoy

Identify What to Let Go Of

Still Struggling to Let Go?

Say No to Others and Say Yes to Self-Care

Establishing Emotional Boundaries and Limits

5 Let Go of Friendships That Aren't Right for You

Who to Let Go

How to End a Friendship

How to End a Friendship 1: Let it Fade Out

How to End a Friendship 2: Cut the Friendship Short

Refuse to be Bullied

6 Manage Overwhelm at Work

Be Aware of How Much You Work

Take Responsibility

Ask for Help

Work–Life Balance if You Work for Yourself

Manage Busy, Stressful Periods at Work

7 Unplug; Switch Off!

Step One: Decide What the Limits Are

Step Two: Find Other Ways to Spend Your Time

Step Three: Reflect Before You Reintroduce Technology

Minimize the Amount of Negative News in Your Life

8 Financial Self-Care

Simple Financial Self-Care

Financial Zen; Get Financial Peace of Mind

PART II: Care for Your Body

9 Get Moving!

Physical

and

Mental Health Benefits of Moving More

How Much Physical Activity Should You Be Doing?

Include More Activity in Your Day-to-Day Routine

Break Up Sitting Time

10 Go to Bed. Get to Sleep

Go to Sleep!

Do's and Don'ts to Help You Sleep

11 Feel Good. Look Good

Reframe the Way You Think of Your Body

Mind What You Wear; Wear it Well

12 Eat Well

Shop, Prepare, and Cook

Eat in Moderation

Find Your Balance Across the Day

Eat More Fruit and Vegetables

Manage and Take Control of Emotional Eating and Drinking

Overcome Cravings

Set Yourself Up for Success

13 Be Drink Aware and Stop Smoking

Stop Smoking

PART III: Care for the Good Times and the Bad Times

14 Be with Good People and Do Nice Things

Volunteer

Find Spirituality

Do More of What You Enjoy; Small Pleasures and Awesome Things

Find ‘Flow’

Get Out in Nature

Do Awesome Things

15 Self-Care When Life Is Really Difficult

Understanding Sadness

Take the Pressure Off

Indulge Yourself with Comfort, Reassurance, and Small Pleasures

Moving On

Let Go and Move On

Self-Care When You're Ill or Injured

Let Others Take Care of You

Ease Back into Your Life

Websites and Books

Health Quiz

Health Apps

Pharmacies

Mental Health Advice and Information

Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Workplace Issues

Managing Bullying

Good News

Financial Advice

Food and Nutrition

Physical Activity and Exercise

Men's Health

Dealing with Substance Misuse

Social Groups for Leisure Interests, Hobbies, and Learning

Volunteering

Books

About the Author

Index

End User License Agreement

Guide

Cover

Table of Contents

Begin Reading

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The Self-Care Handbook

Connect with yourself and boost your wellbeing

 

Gill Hasson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This edition first published 2020

© 2020 Gill Hasson.

Registered office

John Wiley & Sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, United Kingdom

For details of our global editorial offices, for customer services and for information about how to apply for permission to reuse the copyright material in this book please see our website at www.wiley.com.

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Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. It is sold on the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services and neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is Available:

ISBN 978-0-857-08812-3 (hardback)

ISBN 978-0-857-08816-1 (ePDF)

ISBN 978-0-857-08815-4 (epub)

Cover Design: Wiley

Cover Image: © Anna Paff/Shutterstock

Bet; you knew how to take good care of yourself! X

Introduction

My mother always says people should be able to take care of themselves, even if they're rich and important.

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Who needs self-care? You do. We all do. Self-care is central to living a life that makes us feel good and that we feel good about. And yet too few of us recognize and honour our need to balance our mind and body; to protect, maintain, and improve our physical and mental health and our wellbeing.

The NHS's website ‘One You’ www.nhs.uk/oneyou says that ‘without knowing it, by the time we reach our 40s and 50s many of us will have dramatically increased our chances of becoming ill later in life. Whether we are eating the wrong things, drinking more than we should, continuing to smoke despite everything we know, or just not being active enough, all of these small things can add up to an unhealthy you. But, it's not always easy to make a change in our busy lives – tempting treats in easy reach, bigger portions for everything we eat, and technology that allows us to shop, stay in touch, and be entertained without ever having to leave the sofa. Modern life is ganging up on us’.

The good news is that you can do something about it. This book helps you discover how simple, straightforward changes can add up to making a positive difference that leads to a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life, not just in the future, but starting right now.

You deserve a happy, healthy fulfilling life. Don't you? The first chapter of this book explains that self-care isn't selfish. Quite the contrary. Self-care is self-respect. To convince you of this, in Part I, Chapters 2 and 3 help you to get into a self-care mindset – a positive mindset – to recognize that whatever your faults and failings, you're as good as anyone else; that you're worth taking care of and that you deserve to feel good about yourself.

The rest of Part I explains why and how to take care of your mental health; how to manage and reduce stress and ‘overwhelm’ in your personal and work life. It also includes advice about managing your finances. You might not think that money has anything to do with mental health, but although money is not the root of all evil, no matter how much or how little you've got, it is one of life's biggest stressors.

Part II of this book moves on to taking care of your body. Eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are touchstones of self-care and can keep you healthy, fit, and resilient.

But whether it's self-care for your mind or your body – even when you know that self-care is important – it can be hard to make it happen; make it a normal part of your days and weeks and a normal part of your life.

Self-care isn't just about doing the ‘right’ thing, though; it's about making changes to fit your life. The aim of this book is to help you work out ways that you can do this. In each chapter, I explain why you need self-care in that specific area of your life, acknowledge the barriers and challenges, but then offer ways you can apply self-care actions into your life.

Self-care does take some effort, be it planning and preparing healthy meals, finding ways to be physically active, or letting go of your day to get to bed on time. Even finding time to do enjoyable things requires effort on your part too! You just need to take small steps; choose one or two things – one or two changes – at a time, that you really think you can do, focus on them and make them a habit. Then move onto the next thing.

*******

‘Self-care’ may be the new buzz word – but ‘self-help’ isn't. It's what I write and teach about. In this book I've included writing from some of my other books, in particular from three of my recent books: Declutter Your Life, Kindness, and Happiness.

In fact, this book brings together so much of what – through my teaching, coaching, and writing – I encourage others to try and do: to accept themselves, to work on their self-esteem, to manage overwhelm at work and in their personal lives, to let go of people that are draining them, and seek out and spend time with positive people and do enjoyable things. And, to eat well, get moving, and get outside more. (I'm a walker; I'm regularly out walking in the Sussex countryside with family and friends and I'm also a trained walk leader – I lead walking holidays in Europe several times a year.)

Whether you've done very little to take care of yourself, or you've let self-care slide beneath your feet; if, like the Mad Hatter told Alice ‘You used to be much more … “muchier.” You’ve lost your muchness', then this book – The Self-Care Handbook will help you regain your muchness and become ‘more muchier’.

Read on!

1What and Why Self-Care?

What's self-care? It's taking care of yourself. It's looking after yourself. Self-care is health care; care of your mental health and physical health.

In the UK, the Self Care Forum www.selfcareforum.org defines self-care as: ‘The actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.’ And according to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, self-care involves ‘looking after your needs, on a daily basis and in times of crisis in order to maintain a positive emotional, psychological and physiological resilience and wellbeing’.

Self-care involves being aware of and being connected to yourself; it involves knowing what you need to do and not do to ensure your wellbeing. It's taking responsibility for yourself; for your mental, emotional, physical wellbeing. It's knowing that not looking after yourself can have a detrimental effect on your health, welfare, or happiness.

Self-care isn't something you do once and tick off the list. It's the ongoing practice of keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy. It should be a normal part of your life, how you live your life; who you are and what you do.

Speaking in 2018 about Self Care Week – an annual UK national awareness week – Dr Pete Smith, co-chair of Self Care Forum, said: ‘Our aim is to embed it (self-care) into everyone’s everyday life making it a life-long habit and culture. We want people to instinctively understand how to look after their own physical health and mental wellbeing. Self-care is nothing less than actions that lead to a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life.'

Determining what, when, and how much self-care you need is found in being aware of and understanding what your needs are at any one time. If, for example, your life is so full right now that you're feeling overwhelmed, then self-care may mean finding ways to manage this period of your life. It may mean bringing a slower pace, rest, and reflection into your life. If your life currently feels low and flat, or empty, then activities that bring you greater connection to others and the world around you may be what you need.

For some people, self-care might mean managing an acute or chronic illness or disability. For others, it could be about creating a healthy work–life balance. It might mean being more physically active or maintaining or switching to more healthy eating. For some of us, self-care might mean prioritizing a morning or evening walk, making time to write a daily reflective journal, or having time out to read a novel. It could mean a weekly dance class or learning to ride a motorbike. Whatever helps you feel physically and mentally on top of things is all part of self-care.

Knowing Yourself

Throughout your life you are the one constant. You're the only person in the world that you'll always have a relationship with. Self-care is not just about ‘me’, it's about ‘me too’. Self-care reflects a belief in your own, innate worth; it's about taking care of yourself as you would someone you love, with the same respect, consideration and concern, care and compassion.

Self-care is knowing how you feel and what you need without being neurotic – overly anxious and obsessed – about it. It's about knowing what's happened, what's happening, and what you've got coming up and making positive, helpful choices as a result of that knowledge; making choices that are right for you.

Self-care involves learning what does and doesn't work for you, under different circumstances – when life is just rolling along or when life is difficult and challenging – so that you can create and establish routines and habits which together protect and maintain, develop and improve your health and wellbeing.

If you're not already taking good care of yourself, self-care means shaking things up and doing things differently, especially if you experience the sort of issues on the list below. Which of these do you regularly experience?

Being tired.

Feeling sluggish.

Feeling overwhelmed.

Feeling that something hurts – you seem to have a growing list of aches and pains.

Muscle tension.

Not having enough physical activity and exercise.

Feeling irritable; little things easily annoy you.

Poor sleep quality.

Recurring chronic or serious illness (colds, flu-like symptoms, infections).

Lack of peace and quiet.

Feeling down after too long on social media.

Lack of regular meals.

Eating a lot of crap.

Anxiety and worry.

Your mind won't shut off.

Low-level depression.

Feeling trapped by obligations and commitments.

Not enough time for family or friends.

Working too much.

An inability to say no to others' needs and demands.

Feelings of emptiness, disconnection, and loneliness.

Negative and self-sabotaging thoughts.

Low self-esteem and confidence.

In 2017, in an article for (now defunct) The Poolwww.the-pool.com, author Marie Phillips described experiencing ‘a mini burnout’:

‘I was miserable all the time, lacking in energy, unwilling to see friends and unable to work. I tried and tried to feel happier, forcing myself to soldier on and put on a smiling face. Nothing worked … I decided that I wasn’t going to try to feel happy any more. I decided that I needed to look after myself better, not in order to be happy, but to stop myself from getting so overwhelmed in the future.'

Marie decided to take better care of her physical and mental health. Amongst other things, she said:

‘I’ve improved my diet (less meat, more veg); I limit myself to no more than two alcoholic drinks per night (this is the thing I've done that has had the single largest impact on my anxiety); I take more exercise (walking or cycling every day, plus I've taken up rowing); I meditate daily … I found a life coach who taught me, among other things, to have better boundaries; I stopped reading the news because it was killing me with stress; I turn down work I really don't want to do even if it's well paid … and I've rearranged my living arrangements with my boyfriend so that I can work from home.'

Marie wrote: ‘The key thing, though, is that none of it is aimed at turning me into a happy person’ but after six months of healthy living, she realized that she did feel much happier.

‘By focusing on being healthy, I’ve crept up on happiness from the side – I feel calm and rested; I'm enjoying work again; I'm more present as a partner and a friend. Perhaps all along I already had what I needed in my life to feel happy, but only in working on my health did I become well enough to appreciate it.'

Self-Care; Self-Indulgent?

Self-care, like mindfulness, might appear to be the latest new ‘thing’ and yet, like mindfulness, it's not a recent phenomenon; it's not a new concept. Over two thousand years ago the Greek philosopher Socrates spoke of the need to prioritize self-care. Epimeleia heautou – care of the self – is central to Socratic ethics: the moral principles of what makes for ‘right conduct.’

Socrates' emphasis on the importance of paying attention to oneself in order to be as good as possible may seem self-indulgent and selfish, but there is an inseparable link between self-care and care for others in Socratic ethics. Far from being at the expense of others, self-care is bound to the care of others.

As my wise friend Alex says: ‘there is so much we can do to help the world, our communities, our friends and families but this all starts with me. I am of no use to anyone until I can take care of myself … when we transform ourselves, first we are doing service for the world … the most important thing is to balance our physical, emotional and mental lives so we function as integrated personalities and are actually of use to others.’

And, when it comes to our health, the Self Care Forum point out that ‘in many cases people can take care of their minor ailments, reducing the number of GP consultations and enabling GPs to focus on caring for higher risk patients, such as those with comorbidities (the presence of additional conditions co-occurring with a primary condition), the very young and elderly, managing long-term conditions and providing new services.

More cost-effective use of stretched NHS resources allows money to be spent where it’s most needed and improve health outcomes. Furthermore, increased personal responsibility around healthcare helps improve people's health and wellbeing and better manage long-term conditions when they do develop. This will ultimately ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS.'

Self-care is not selfish, self-centred, or self-indulgent. It's self-respectful. It's also respectful and considerate of others.

When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs: ‘If there should be a change in cabin pressure, put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.’ Because if you run out of oxygen, you can't help anyone else with their oxygen mask. This analogy is often used to describe the importance of self-care. It's a good analogy, but it's flawed. Why? Because running out of oxygen is an emergency. If you waited for emergencies before implementing self-care you'd be at crisis point: managing burnout, exhaustion, and health problems.

What's Stopping You?

But if your life is busy, finding the time and energy and remembering to take proper care of yourself can fall by the wayside. If you're feeling down, distracted, worried, or anxious self-care can seem like far too big an effort. And if you're stressed, unwell, or exhausted, experiencing bereavement, trauma, or a major challenge and perhaps most in most need of it, self-care can feel like an especially tall order, even when you know it will help you to feel better.

But being busy, feeling tired, being down, or feeling overwhelmed are the signs that you really need self-care; self-care that's calming and comforting, healing and restorative.

Self-discipline is self-caring.

M. Scott Peck

Perhaps, though, the idea of self-care sounds limiting; dull and boring. Not so! Not every choice has to be ‘self-care’. There's always a time for a late night instead of an early night, a time for one more drink, a time for pizza and chocolate cake for breakfast, for not leaving the sofa all weekend. In fact, if you're already taking good care of yourself, you can easily indulge in some guilty pleasures, with no need to feel guilty at all!

Self-Care Actions

Take responsibility for yourself. Don't use whatever's going on in your life as an excuse for a lack of self care. Don't blame other people; their needs and demands, either. Take responsibility for your mental, emotional, physical health and well-being.

Know that self-care is not selfish. It's not self-centred or self-indulgent. Self-care is self-respectful. It's also respectful and considerate of others.

PART ICare for Your Mind

 

2Accept Yourself

No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.

Robert Holden

Self-care starts with the acknowledgement that you're worth taking care of. Self-acceptance is related to self-esteem. But where self-esteem is concerned with how well you regard yourself, self-acceptance acknowledges and accepts the less positive, less ‘esteem-able’ parts; self-acceptance acknowledges and accepts your failings and foibles and doesn't let your shortcomings define you or undermine your true worth.

Can you accept and approve of yourself despite any failings or foibles, limitations or weaknesses? Yes. You can.

But why might you, like so many of us, think negatively about yourself and your abilities? There are a number of reasons. Being put down, criticized, humiliated, bullied, discriminated, or left out by others can leave you with low levels of self-worth. If you are under pressure, stressed and finding it hard to cope, or you have overly high standards and unrealistic expectations for yourself – about who you ‘should’ be and what you ‘should’ be able to do – this too can lead to negative thinking about yourself when you don't meet those high expectations.

How often, for example, do you give yourself a hard time when you make a mistake, or you screw up? Do you feel really bad if you think you've upset someone else or let someone down? Perhaps you still feel guilty for something you said or did to someone else. Do you blame yourself if things don't turn out the way you hoped? Or maybe you berate yourself when you're unable to cope with a particular situation. When you look at social media – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – do you ever think that everyone else is living a lovely life; you compare your situation with theirs and find yours wanting? You doubt yourself, your abilities, and your achievements and tell yourself things like ‘I’m not good enough. I'll never match up.'

We all have an inner voice; what's known as ‘self-talk’. It provides us with a running commentary rather like the constant text at the bottom of 24-hour news channels. It is this inner voice that directs your thinking and shapes your beliefs and actions. Mostly, your self-talk is neutral; observations and acknowledgements of day-to-day events such as: ‘It’s raining, I'll need an umbrella' or ‘I must remember to buy some milk’.

Your self-talk can also be positive, encouraging, and empowering when you think, for example, about a particular situation: ‘I can give it a try. I’m pleased with how I did that. Well done me!' But your self-talk can also criticize and judge you, belittle and berate you. You might say things to yourself such as: ‘I’m never going to be able to work this out', ‘Why does this happen to me?, ‘People will think I’m stupid’, ‘I look like shit’, or ‘I always say the wrong thing’.

But everything you say to yourself matters! Negative self-talk from your inner critic – that disapproving voice inside your head – can leave you feeling inadequate and hopeless. It inhibits you, limits you, erodes your peace of mind and emotional wellbeing. It doesn't allow room for self-acceptance.

Catch the Critic

Self-acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship with myself.

Nathaniel Branden

Your thoughts are so powerful because you rarely have conscious awareness or control over them. More often than not, you won't even notice when you're thinking in negative ways; berating and reprimanding yourself and bringing yourself down. So, to gain control over your inner critic you have to first be aware of it; to make a conscious effort to slow down and pay more attention to your thoughts and self-talk.

To begin with, your emotions can alert you to the presence of your inner critic. Whenever you're feeling worried, disappointed, stressed, angry or upset, guilty or regretful about something you have or haven't done, stop and be aware of your thoughts.