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Self-care tips for a happier, healthier you

Restrictions are starting to ease, but you must still remember: Hands. Face. Space. Fresh air. Check the current rules.

‘Take 10’ each day for your wellbeing! Most people have had a hard time lately and looking after our wellbeing, which includes our overall mental and physical health, has never been more important.

We’ve put together our top ‘take 10’ suggestions that will help you to relax and take a breather from everyday life.

Monday - Take 10 for Stretchwell

Stretching is not just something you do when you’re tired – it’s actually really beneficial to your overall health. There’s lots of different type of stretches that can range from gentle stretch exercises to more advanced yoga techniques, and it’s important to know that stretching is not just a warm up exercise, it really works wonders for your mind and body.

If you’re working from home you’ll be well aware of the aches, pains and niggles that can arise after a long day slumped (hopefully not too much) over your laptop. The good news is doing some simple stretch movements can work wonders to improve your posture and flexibility which will not only improve the way you work at home, but also reverse any aches and damages to your posture you might already be noticing.

Have a go at these ten minute Stretchwell routines, led by Craig who is one of our senior health practitioners.

Tuesday - Take 10 to relax your senses

Taking a short break out of your day to simply ‘switch off’ has been proven to help with anxiety, reduce stress and help you recharge your batteries for the rest of the day. Try this relaxation routine either on your lunch break, after work, or before bed (or all three!)…

Find a space in the house where you can be alone for 10 minutes, choose a comfy chair, get some cushions or a throw if you like, and put your phone on mute and leave it out of sight. Light some scented candles and take some deep, calming breaths - inhale for 6 seconds and exhale for 3, repeat this five times. Put on some quiet relaxing music (use your phone but don’t look at anything else on it!) close your eyes, sit back, and try to clear your mind by concentrating on the music, your breathing, and the smell of the candles. You could also have a warm drink and a little indulgent treat to make it even better. There’s plenty more relaxation tips and benefits on the Mind website.

Wednesday - Take ten for some virtual exercise

The Live Well Centre have put together some brilliant, easy to follow videos to follow at home that will get your blood pumping and your body moving. There’s tai chi, Pilates, seated routines and some ‘Long Covid’ exercises that are really useful if you’ve had any long-terms effects after catching Covid. Check out the virtual exercise videos now - we highly recommend the Dolly Parton video!

Whether you love it or loathe it, the benefits of exercise are undeniable. As well as losing weight, your mental health can really benefit from being more active – even just a short online stretch class or yoga class can help you feel a sense of achievement during your day. Being active just a few times a week can even help reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer too.

There’s more information at the NHS website and there’s a handy guide to wellbeing and mental health during Covid-19 which includes some tips on how to keep active.

Thursday - Take ten and get back to nature

This is another great and easy way to de-stress. Being at one with nature – whether it’s a short walk on your lunch break, or even just a cup of tea in the back garden, can really help your mind to relax.

Try and set yourself a goal of taking a short stroll at least 3 or 4 times a week, preferably on your lunch break now that the nights are drawing in. Aim to increase your steps or distance by a few minutes each day so you’re burning a few extra calories.

Did you know walking also helps your heart rate, your posture and your joints too? It’s also great to incorporate a daily walk into your routine so you’re simply not being in your house all day!

Friday - Take ten to pamper

This may seem like a luxury for many, or something that wouldn’t have many benefits. The truth is, taking some time to pamper and have a bit of ‘you time’ has been proven to increase endorphins – the positive chemicals in our body. Here’s our top pamper tips that anyone can enjoy…

  1. Do we really need an excuse? Taking a long hot soak can help to ease your mind and body. Add some bubbles and relaxing candles and you may never want to leave!
  2. Take some time to do your hair/make up/put on a nice outfit. Even though none of us have many plans at the minute, research has shown that if you still take time to pick an outfit and do your usual styling routine it can add a bit of a spring in your step.
  3. Treat yourself – don’t hold back from the odd extra biscuit or bag of crisps, it’s been a tough time lately, you deserve it.

Saturday - Take ten to get moving

The word ‘exercise’ needn’t fill you with dread, there’s lots of simple ways to get moving that won’t have you breaking out in a sweat at the thought of picking up a dumbbell.

Our top tip for a Saturday night during lockdown? Turn up the volume and bust out some moves like no-one’s watching - or maybe even get your family and friends involved on a zoom call for extra giggles. That’s right, even dancing in front of your telly can be an excellent way to keep fit, boost energy levels and it massively increases those feel good chemicals too. Whether it’s a blast of ‘Working 9 til 5’ or a dose of 90s dance (Whigfield anyone?) we bet you will feel on top of the world after 10 minutes dancing to your favourite playlist tunes.

Sunday - Take ten to chill

And finally, after a busy week at work and taking care of yourself and others, Sunday is the day to do a little bit of whatever makes you happy!

Call a friend, bake a delicious cake (we think this easy no-bake cheesecake is a winner) or simply catch up with your favourite TV series. You may think that simply ‘chilling out’ isn’t very productive but it actually helps your brain to de clutter, recharge, and gets you ready for the week ahead. So go ahead – put your feet up, you’ll thank yourself for it!

There’s plenty more tips on how to look after your mind and body during lockdown and beyond in this guide, and remember to reach out to those around you if you need support, or you can self-refer to local talking support groups if you’d prefer to talk to someone impartial.

The Every Life Matters charity has created a booklet to provide advice and signposting to support during coronavirus. It's a downloadable A5 booklet which aims to reach those who may be more vulnerable or find it difficult to access online support. Please print and distribute information to those who may find it helpful.