This week (14-20 November) is National Self Care Week. Simply put, ‘self care’ refers to the act of taking the time to look after your physical and mental health.
Sounds easy enough, but when you’re incredibly busy, self care can fall by the wayside as you’re concentrating on too many other things. Even when you’re not busy, it is still possible to forget to put yourself first and tend to your own needs sometimes. Alternatively, if you’re living with a mental or physical illness, it’s important to devote time to self care in order to prevent further difficulties.
Self care can take many forms, and of course not everyone enjoys the same activities, so there’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as you’re taking time to do something that makes you feel good. As this post suggests, it can include looking after yourself physically and mentally by eating well, exercising, looking after your body, doing things you enjoy, socialising and being aware of how you’re feeling.
It’s amazing how simply swapping convenience food on the go for sitting down for a healthy dinner can make you feel so much better. If you can afford to and have the time, cooking from scratch and involving your family, housemates, or friends can make a meal even more enjoyable. To get started with healthy cooking, why not check out a title from our list of Great British Bake Off Contestants’ books or download a title such as Good Food or a health magazine from Zinio using your library card? Alternatively, you could find a recipe book you like the look of in our catalogue - why not see what you can find?
It can be hard to fit exercise around a busy schedule, especially at this time of year when the weather can put you off making the trip from home to the gym, let alone going for a jog when it’s cold and dark. Why not have a go at exercising at home? We have exercise instruction books for all abilities and requirements - again, have a search in our catalogue.
Alternatively, we run gentle exercise classes for older people in some of our libraries. There’s also an exercise class for new mums at Halesworth Library. Check out our health events page to see what’s available near you.
Looking after your body
While you probably manage to at least grab a quick shower every day, a great act of self care is to luxuriate in a long bath, or, if you’re into that kind of thing, break out the face and hair masks and lotions and so on. While you’re there, why not take the opportunity to read a book, watch a film or TV show, or listen to some music?
We have some great suggestions for moodboosting books, or you might find just the book you’re looking for on one of our fiction or non-fiction lists. If you’re looking for something to listen to or watch, perhaps something on our music or films and DVDs lists will take your fancy.
Just be very careful not to drop your library book or eReader in the bath!
Doing things you enjoy
Putting work aside (obviously not while you’re at work, we don’t think your boss would approve!) and spending time on a hobby is a great way to destress and enjoy yourself. Obviously, we’re very big fans of reading books and eBooks here at Suffolk Libraries, so we naturally recommend you find a book to enjoy from our new fiction and non-fiction lists. We also love to read digital magazines, listen to audiobooks and listen to music, all of which you can do with your library card.
Activities such as arts, crafts and gardening are also fantastic ways to unwind while building a skill and having a project. We have books on all aspects of these hobbies, including drawing techniques, knitting ideas and gardening manuals.
You can also access Amateur Gardening, Artists and Illustrators, Creating an Organic Garden, Knit Today and many other hobby magazines through Zinio if you’re looking for inspiration and advice.
This brings us neatly on to our next self care activity…
Several of our libraries run hobby groups, where like-minded individuals can get together and bond over their shared interest, be it reading, writing, knitting, colouring, painting, board games, or something else. Our groups also bring together people in similar life situations; for example, our baby and toddler groups bring parents together, and our Top Time sessions bring older people together. Some libraries host bereavement groups, groups for adults with learning disabilities, groups for people with mental health problems, parents’ groups and Slimming World groups. To see what your local library has to offer, find it on our libraries page or see our health events page.
Being aware of how you’re feeling
An advantage of slowing down and caring for yourself is that you can consider how you’re feeling, physically and emotionally, allowing you to notice any pains you need to treat or get treated, and whether you’re feeling mentally tip-top.
A big trend in mental health maintenance in recent years has been mindfulness. As with all practices, it’s not for everyone, but some people find that it calms them and helps them ‘be in the moment’ and identify how they’re feeling. We have lots of books on mindfulness techniques available in our libraries. A couple of our libraries host classes designed for relaxation and mindfulness; there is a pilates class at Hadleigh Library, a Mindfulness and Meditation class at Woodbridge Library
And of course, it’s always worth going to see your GP if you’re being bothered by physical and/or mental health difficulties. We additionally have links to information on a wide variety of health and wellbeing issues.
We hope that this post has inspired you to start some new self care habits this week, be they eating more healthily, exercising more often, or taking up a new hobby.