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Self Care and Wellbeing: A Practical Guide for Health and Social Care

Learn practical self care exercises to manage stress and improve your wellbeing so you can care for others effectively.

2,993 enrolled on this course

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Learn practical self care exercises to manage stress and improve your wellbeing

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought major challenges for health and social care workers, as well as for students in the sector.

Frontline workers and students have had to accept greater levels of responsibility – leading to an increase in stress, and physical, mental, and emotional fatigue and exhaustion.

On this three-week course, we will introduce you to self care and mindfulness practices designed to improve your stress management and overall wellbeing.

Acknowledge the impact of cumulative trauma on health and wellbeing

The first step in dealing with the effects of difficult and crisis situations on your mental health is to acknowledge them.

We’ll start by introducing you to a range of self-awareness tools, which will allow you to recognise the challenges you’re experiencing so that they feel less overwhelming.

Put mindfulness and self-compassion into practice

Once you recognise the effects of stress and overwhelm, you’ll be ready to learn the self care techniques that can help support you in the midst of them.

You will explore the current and evolving principles of self-compassion and mindfulness, which you can start to apply practically in your daily life.

By the end of the course, you’ll have the knowledge and skills of self-compassion and kindness to meet and manage effectively your emotional needs.

Develop a toolkit of daily practices

You’ll gain the most benefit through daily repetition of these practices. We’ll lay the groundwork, which we hope you will use daily to suit your needs.

We’re confident you will feel increasingly able, and willing, to invest your time as your experiences of self care develop.

Sharing our experience

This course was developed from the MSc in Critical Care and the Mindfulness Programme at the Chaplaincy at the University of Edinburgh.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second Are you working in health or social care and looking to improve your wellbeing? Would you like to develop resourcefulness to deal with difficult and traumatic situations? During this three week course, we’ll guide you through practical self care exercises, such as the three-step breathing space, being present, self-kindness and compassionate listening. Through practising and repeating these techniques, you’ll learn how to manage effectively your response to stress at work and at home. Join our course and learn how to care for yourself so that you can better care for others.


  • Week 1

    Daily Practices

    • Welcome to the Course

      Meet your course team, find out what's in store over the next few weeks, and introduce yourself to the learning community.

    • Mindfulness

      We look at two modes of mind that affect mood and behaviour. We also guide you through the 3-step Breathing Space and a mindfulness exercise to help you feel grounded.

    • Caring Human Factors

      We explore the different types of human factors, and introduce the concept of Caring Human Factors. We highlight their critical importance to personal wellbeing and self care.

    • Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness (TSM)

      You will learn the theory behind TSM and practise some techniques to help you meet difficult emotions with friendliness and care.

    • Week 1 Summary

      Now that you have learned some core theory and daily practices, take some time to reflect on your experiences and to explore further resources.

  • Week 2

    Responding to Crises

    • From Overwhelm to Calm

      We explore why increased awareness and understanding of the source our feelings of fear or anxiety can help us to regain calmness and control. We introduce practices which can help you manage emotions in a crisis.

    • Self-soothing in Crisis

      We focus on the practice of techniques to develop your skills in self-soothing, which you can apply in the moment of distress.

    • Week 2 Summary

      Now that you have learned some techniques to use in the moment of crisis, take some time to reflect on your experiences and explore further resources.

  • Week 3

    Dealing with the Aftermath

    • Exercise Self Care

      You will develop your mindfulness and breathing space skills, and look at embracing personal imperfections, remembering Desmond Tutu's message that "We all make mistakes and we all need forgiveness".

    • Kindness and Compassion

      Remembering the flight safety brief of 'putting on your own oxygen mask first' we look at how, in order to be caring to others, it's important to start with kindness and compassion to yourself.

    • Week 3 Summary

      Now that you have practised tools and techniques to support your emotions after a crisis or difficult time, we encourage you to reflect on your experiences and explore further resources.

    • Course Summary

      We conclude by sharing some of our favourite self care and wellbeing texts, and our final thoughts.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the omnipresence and ubiquity of cumulative trauma and crisis events in healthcare
  • Apply the current and evolving principles of mindful and compassionate self care in practice
  • Practise different forms of self care as required to meet sensitively each stage of traumatic experiences

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for students and staff working in health and social care wishing to look after their mental health. Anyone interested in improving their overall wellbeing or seeking support with managing repeated or extreme stress will also find it invaluable.

Who will you learn with?

MSc in Critical Care Programme Lead for Professional Development, Physician, Intensivist, Past President Scottish Intensive Care Society and a Founding Fellow of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine

I am Professor of Student Learning (Nurse Education) in Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Dorothy is Honorary Nurse Consultant, Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Lead Adviser to Scotland's Ombudsman and Director DA Professional.

Dr Kitty Wheater is Mindfulness Chaplain at the University of Edinburgh, an Associate of the Global Compassion Initiative, and Teaching Partner at the Oxford University Mindfulness Centre.

Who developed the course?

The University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities and is globally recognised for research, innovation and high-quality teaching.

Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has been enabling doctors to pursue their careers in specialist internal medicine through medical examinations, education and training, since 1681.


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