Self-care for busy PEO­PLE


Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Dr Suzanne Hen­wood De­sign Olek­san­dra Zuieva

Are you some­one who works long hours and won­ders where the day goes to? Do you feel you are work­ing at, or be­yond full ca­pac­ity, with no space for any­thing else?

I will show you that it is easy to build time into each day for self-care, so that it be­comes a nat­u­ral prac­tice.

It is very easy to put your­self and your own needs at the bot­tom of the list of pri­or­i­ties, but re­search is show­ing us that our health is suffering due to stress and lack of self-care. Our work en­vi­ron­ments are of­ten chal­leng­ing and with the ever-in­creas­ing rate of change, those chal­lenges are only likely to in­crease over time. If you don’t pri­ori­tise your needs, you will not be here to con­tinue serv­ing and meet­ing the needs of oth­ers at home and work.


Your self-care is not a value-added com­mod­ity; it is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of a sus­tain­able fu­ture. So, we need to find time in our busy sched­ules to build it in. Just as 5-7 pieces of fruit and veg a day is good for your health, 5-7 prac­tices of quick and easy self-care ac­tiv­i­ties a day, or at least once a week, will help you to cre­ate holis­tic health and well-be­ing.


We of­ten get so caught up in work or com­mit­ments at home, that we don’t even re­alise how we truly feel. A great prac­tice is to take 2 min­utes out at the start or end of the day, to self-scan and check in with your body to see if any­thing re­quires at­ten­tion. Whether it is phys­i­cal aches and pains, emo­tional dis­com­fort or old habits and pat­terns which are im­pact­ing on your be­hav­iour – a quick scan can help you fo­cus on changes that could im­prove your health and well-be­ing.

2. Per­form deep breath­ing.

Set an alarm and STOP what you are do­ing every two hours. Turn the alarm off and take a deep breath in. Place your hands on your belly and make sure the breath is deep and even and pushes your belly out as you breathe in. Now let that breath go, blow­ing out the breath and imag­in­ing any ten­sion or neg­a­tiv­ity be­ing ex­haled with the air. Con­sciously re­lax your ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles and al­low your breath to move eas­ily and freely. Re­peat th­ese ac­tions, three to five times, hold­ing a feel­ing of ap­pre­ci­a­tion at heart level, en­sur­ing the length of the breath in and breath out, are the same. The com­bi­na­tion of th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties will fa­cil­i­tate a low­er­ing of high heart rate, which is healthy for your whole sys­tem.

3. Try mind­ful breath­ing.

Al­ter­nately you can try mind­ful breath­ing – again stop what you are do­ing, put all your

at­ten­tion and fo­cus on your breath and just no­tice what you no­tice. There is no aim to change any­thing, or to judge any feel­ing you be­come aware of – just no­tice. This will bring you into the present mo­ment. Re­search shows that this can have a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion on stress lev­els, along with an in­crease in im­mune func­tion, learn­ing and mem­ory, to name a few of the ev­i­dence based ben­e­fits.

4. Do ran­dom acts of kind­ness.

There is a vast ar­ray of re­search to show that demon­strat­ing kind­ness to oth­ers, makes you feel good. What bet­ter way to prac­tice this than at work, which has the dou­ble ben­e­fit, where both you and your col­leagues gain from those ac­tions. Think of ways to show kind­ness, whether it is wash­ing up some­one’s mug, leav­ing a pos­i­tive note on their work sta­tion, do­ing a task you know they don’t en­joy, or bring­ing in healthy food to share. What­ever you think of, ideally some­thing that is tai­lor made for the in­di­vid­ual, en­joy the plea­sure it gives you as you find cre­ative ways of do­ing th­ese acts of kind­ness. Over time the peo­ple with whom you spend your work days, will ben­e­fit as well.

5. Prac­tice grat­i­tude.

One of the most ef­fec­tive ways to in­crease mood is to prac­tice grat­i­tude. Buy your­self a di­ary and each day write three things you are grate­ful for. It can be small and sim­ple things that you no­tice, but what you will prob­a­bly find, is that in a very short space of time, the num­ber of things that you record grows. You can set a cer­tain time of day to fill in your grat­i­tude di­ary so it be­comes a ha­bit­ual and nor­mal part of your every-day prac­tice.

While there is no one ‘right’ list of ac­tiv­i­ties and ev­ery­one will have their own pref­er­ences, you can ad­just and re­fine th­ese sim­ple ideas to fit your work en­vi­ron­ments. Whether you use th­ese ex­am­ples, or cre­ate your own prac­tices, the key to suc­cess is mak­ing a firm com­mit­ment to pay at­ten­tion to all ar­eas of your life at home and work. Your defin­ing prin­ci­ple must be the be­lief that this in­vest­ment of time and en­ergy in your­self is worth­while.

Dr Suzanne Hen­wood is the Di­rec­tor and Lead Coach and Trainer of mBrain­ing4Suc­cess. She is also the CEO of The Healthy Work­place and a Mas­ter Trainer and Mas­ter Coach of mBIT (Mul­ti­ple Brain In­te­gra­tion Tech­niques) and can be con­tacted via her web­site.

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