With studies showing the benefits of self care include alleviating depression and anxiety, it’s no wonder health experts recommend fitting it into our busy routines.
It’s even been given its own awareness week (13th-19th November) run by the Self Care Forum, a charity aiming to make it become everyone’s daily habit so we do it without even thinking about it or questioning it. But why is it so important?
The charity defines self care as ‘the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.’
And ‘anything that encourages people to look after themselves better is worth finding time for’, says ZoomDoc GP Dr Jenny Ellenbogen.
The Self Care Forum even estimates that if more of us practised self care, we could save the NHS up to £2 billion by self-treating minor ailments and freeing up GP appointments.
So whether you’re a self-care sceptic or just aren’t sure where to start, try these simple daily habits and you may just feel better for it!
- Take vitamin D
This is particularly important as daylight hours decrease and it becomes difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone, which is possible in the summer months.
So kickstart your self-care regime by following NHS guidance to take ‘a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D’, between November and March particularly.
- Turn off screens
We’re all guilty of staring at screens and scrolling on phones while we’re watching TV or in bed but there’s plenty of evidence it’s taking a toll on your health and wellbeing.
If a digital detox is a step too far, start small by putting your phone upstairs in the evenings, or turn it off for an hour – you’ll soon realise how much you use it! But power through and you’ll find yourself more present, more relaxed and sleeping better, too.
- Eat more colour
When it comes to self-care dietary tips, you don’t need to make big changes to see results.
Just eating more colourful fruit and veg each day is a great way to add variety and vitamins to your diet. And it doesn’t mean cutting anything out at this point, so you’re more likely to stick to it. Start small and it’ll soon become a healthy habit you don’t think about!
Add new seasonal fruits and vegetables to your food shop, make batches of soup for healthy easy meals or have a meat-free week – all easy ways to up your veg count.
- Move a bit more
Regular exercise is key to improving your health and wellbeing and even small amounts can make a difference to your mood, muscles and more.
Although NHS guidelines recommend everyone tries to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, working out at around 40 minutes every other day, a recent study shows that even small amounts daily can have big benefits.
Looking at short bursts of exercise, it found that a few minutes of physical activity made a difference, whether that was gardening, cleaning or walking.
However, it found that those who made it a daily habit to move for up to 10 minutes a day could halve their risk of premature death and significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, compared to doing no physical activity.
- Get up to date with vaccines and screenings
Self Care Week is all about getting round to those health appointments we constantly put off or neglect. So, if you’ve not got round to your flu vaccine this winter or are overdue for a mammogram, health check or cervical screening, use this week to catch up and make that appointment.
‘This is one self care tip that could save your life so don’t put off a vaccine or screening appointment any longer,’ says Dr Jenny.
- Know who to see … and get it sorted
Always see your doctor for anything concerning you or that’s getting worse, not better.
Remember you can always talk to a ZoomDoc GP via our online app at a time that suits you for just £35. We can arrange a prescription if required or supply you with a GP referral letter (extra charge applies) if you need to see a specialist.
For minor ailments, pharmacists are trained to be able to diagnose minor ailments and recommend suitable medicines that may help. If they suspect it may be something more serious, they will recommend you see a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional.
For out-of-hours medical assistance, call 111 or call 999 in an emergency at any time of the day.
Need time off work? ZoomDoc can provide you with an official sick note to save you any further stress or unnecessary trips to the doctor’s. Simply download yours here and let us help you, so you can focus on getting better.