In your role as a care provider, your focus is on other people’s health and well-being. From making sure residents are cared for, to supporting your workforce to managing sickness and absences. You may also have family to care for, both young and old. It’s all too easy to forget yourself.
Self-care is an imperative that people put way down on their mental to-do list, the feeling there is no time to spare for yourself means you are neglecting THE most important person needed to help everyone else. The irony of not putting yourself first means that you could have so much more to give if you treated yourself well, giving you the same care and respect you show to others. The classic scenario of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping another.
Being dog-tired when making important decisions is proven to cloud your judgement. Taking measures to avoid burn-out need not be drastic. Making just small changes, can have a big impact on your energy levels. Imagine having just 20% more energy in a day. What would that mean to you? You already have everything you need to make that happen, no gadgets or fancy boot-camp regime necessary.
What we eat and how we approach our own fitness plays a big role in our potential to feel positive and energised, and at our best. Make a commitment to yourself today to introduce some healthy habits into your life. Achievable and sustainable ones that won’t go flying out the window as soon as you’re not in the mood or having a super busy day. The excuses we all have up our sleeves to talk ourselves out of something are phenomenal, try talking yourself IN to action instead.
We breathe in and out 25,000 times a day without giving it a thought. Our breathing patterns mirror our physical and emotional state. When we’re breathing effectively, taking in enough oxygen to fuel the body, our brain is happy that everything must be ok. When our breathing is erratic, due to feelings of stress and pressure, we are unable to think clearly or rationally, panic sets in and our heart rates go up. The heart and brain are in constant contact with each other to assess threat levels and our brain now senses all is not well. If we regulate our breathing pattern, we are more likely to be able to handle a situation with clarity and control. Breath is life and it is recognised that paced breathing exercises have an impact on focus and energy levels.
A study found that just one day of diaphragmatic breathing exercises relieved emotional exhaustion. Other psychological studies have shown it reduces anxiety, depression, and stress.
The Box Breathing method also known as square breathing, is easy to scatter into a busy schedule and can be done discreetly. How you do it is to sit upright, with your feet flat on the floor. After slowly exhaling to the slow count of four, you then slowly inhale through your nose to the count of four. Your lungs fill up with air while you hold your breath for another slow count of four. Then you exhale through your mouth for four more beats, and finally hold your breath one more time for four counts before repeating the process. Repeat at least three times.
CREATE A NATURALLY PHYSICAL LIFE FOR YOURSELF
Potter in the garden
Wash the car instead of going to a car wash
Dance, around the house in your kitchen or while you’re doing housework
Play with the kids outside
Put the labour saving devices away – scrape that windscreen, mix that cake with a spoon
Walk and cycle more; you may be on your feet all day at work, but for leisure take a long walk or ride in the countryside. Walk or cycle shorter journeys that you would normally take by car.
Eating a well-balanced nutritious diet really is the key to feeling happier from within. It will improve your ability to fight off illness, help you feel more energised and reduce inflammation in the body.
Choosing the right foods with all the conflicting advice around can be daunting. As a rule of thumb, eat ‘good’ plant-based and animal protein, carbs, and fats. Ditch anything labelled as ‘low-fat’, fizzy drinks, processed meats, refined sugars, and commercial cereals.
Good choice proteins include organic eggs and meat; fish; lean poultry; and pulses
Good choice carbs include sweet potatoes; lentils; chickpeas; colourful vegetables
Good choice fats include nuts; oily fish, wild salmon; avocado; olive oil, coconut oil; and grass-fed butter
Being an organised shopper and planning food for the week will help you to stick to a nutritious and nourishing diet, and also means you will be less likely to eat on the hoof, grabbing fast food to fill you up.
Because stretching increases blood and nutrient flow throughout your body, not only will you feel refreshed, but also your energy levels will be increased, meaning an improved feeling of vigour.
Throughout the night our bodies become less compressed and we gain an inch or two in height. Spending 10 minutes stretching first thing in the morning, will wake your body up and ease it back into the gravitational push.
Stretching should not be painful, so if you feel any sharp pain, stop immediately. Should you have any muscle or joints problems always follow the advice of your practitioner.
Some popular stretches:
Begin kneeling, relax your body forward and rest your forehead to the ground. Extend your arms forward and keep your hands on the floor, a little wider than your shoulders. Stay here for 20 or more complete breaths. If you find the posture uncomfortable, lay on your back and draw the knees into your chest instead. To tie this in with your breathing exercises, picture your inhalation travelling up and down your spine.
From child’s pose move on to all fours. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Draw your navel towards your spine to protect your lower back. Lift and arch your back like a cat and return to centre. Repeat 10 times, remembering to breathe. This move helps to remove stagnant energy.
Perfect for opening the chest. Stretch your arms forwards with your legs stretched out straight behind you, transfer your weight onto your hands whilst releasing your hips to the floor. Keeping your neck in line with your spine, push down into your hands and keep your lower back long. Breathe deeply for five complete breaths.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, about a foot’s length away from your bottom. Place a towel between your knees and squeeze it tightly.
Roll your body up, lifting your bum and lower back off the ground. Then slowly roll back down one lower vertebrae at a time. Repeat 10 times.
Excellent for activating energy, it’s almost impossible not to feel uplifted when you are in this position. Spreading and opening our arms and stretching out into the space around us with an open stance like a starfish, helps us feel empowered and confident. Combine this with saying a positive affirmation (see below) and you’ll feel energised to face the day head with a more positive mindset.
Why not choose a mantra to set you up for the day ahead – thoughts really do become things, so make your mantra a positive statement and repeat it out loud, starting you off on the right note and keeping negative thoughts at bay. For example, ‘My mind is awake, and my body is full of energy’; I have all the energy I need to have an amazing day; today is a new day, I’m happy to be here.