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Thoughts on Self Care and Wellbeing

The course team reflected on what self care and wellbeing means to them, and why this course is important. Watch the video to find out more.
I’ve always valued the intricate balance between our health and our wellbeing. During this pandemic, more than ever, I’ve recognised the significance of caring for myself. Like the safety brief on a plane, it’s vital we put on our own oxygen mask before helping others. So self care means exactly that. In order for me to care for others effectively, I need to care for myself. I love Kristin Neff’s definition of self-compassion - treat yourself like you would a dear friend. I have been a nurse for so many years now and have always recognised the joys and rewards of caring for people, but also the challenge and the occasional heartache.
What I believe has been thrown into sharp relief in the time of COVID is the primacy of caring for carers. And for the carers to know how to care for themselves and to be all they can be. When I think of self care, my first consideration is the need to recognise that we need it. My whole clinical career has been spent looking after critically ill patients, caring for them, and for their families, and their carers. Supporting trainees, colleagues and students has also been a major component. It is only relatively recently that I’ve realised the importance of prioritising and practising self care.
I’ve found that a crucial component of this is to practise self-kindness and self-compassion, particularly in dealing with my judgmental, inner self critic. Having a close friend in whom I can confide is also really important for me. Daily self care practice involves connection with nature, exercise - I do love cycling - meditation and quiet time, journaling, music, and reading. To me, self care is the practices that we do to tend our health, happiness, and integrity as human beings.
For me, wellbeing is the combination of the four dimensions of health as described by Stephen Covey. Firstly, the physical elements, like diet, exercise, and sleep. Secondly, we have the mental or psychological elements related to our self-awareness, our learning, and our growth. Thirdly is the social element, and that’s about our relationships and human connections. And finally, we have spiritual, and this encompasses the parts of our lives that gives us meaning, perhaps a higher being, or simply being in nature, meditation, or yoga. For me, wellbeing must always mean achieving that essence of peace of mind. I think of wellbeing across the four domains of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. There is a lot of overlap between these.
My experience is that by stopping doing, and just being in the moment, contentment and peace, happiness and joy can ensue. Wellbeing of body, mind, and spirit is possible through the application of practical self care. To me, wellbeing is the state in which we’re sufficiently resourced and supported that we are able both to meet the difficulties of life and be present to its joys.
I’m thrilled to be involved in this work, to share and disseminate our passion with you. If each person accessing this course feels more supported, or is able to access new learning, then this is a worthy achievement. For me, the importance of this very practical course is that it looks to demonstrate to those who work in health and social care that, by enhancing their ability to self care, they can enhance their ability to care for others, and thereby achieve optimal wellbeing. To help others, I would like to share my positive experience of the real benefits of practising self care as part of daily life.
The single question I get asked most as a Mindfulness Practitioner is, “I know I’m supposed to be mindful and self-compassionate, but how do I do that?” This course is the how, the ideas and practices you need in one place to be kinder to yourself and navigate the challenges of your work and life with more ease.

Before we delve in to any theory or practice, we thought it would be useful to start with the basics. We took some time to reflect on self care and wellbeing, and answered these core questions from our own personal perspectives:

  • What is self care?
  • What is wellbeing?
  • Why is this course important?

You might like to reflect on these questions yourself, and share and discuss what self care and wellbeing mean to you in the comments below. Whether you’re completely new to this topic, or already familiar with it, your thoughts are valuable to the whole learning community.

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

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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