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Taking Care of You

Self-care is something we deliberately do to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. There are four key elements which are essential to our well-being and health are seen as, food, sleep, exercise and relaxation; this is discussed by Dr. Chatterjee in his book The 4 Pillar Plan.

We need to give equal importance to each of these elements to create a balance for our mind and body. This then allows our body systems to work in harmony and create an environment for optimum health. Each element of health relates to the others and will have a knock on effect on them. For example, a lack of good quality sleep will affect how you eat and whether or not you exercise. As you read this think about which element you give your least importance to and click on the icon to find out what you can do to improve your health in your everyday life.

If you would like to talk to someone about how to make these lifestyle changes, please contact your health care practitioner, ACE Weight Management Services or Community 360 about My Social Prescription.

Stress

Stress is a normal response that occurs when we are faced with a trying situation. Stress should be short term not long term.

If we think back to prehistoric times when faced with a dangerous animal, our brain would release the stress hormone cortisol which would prepare us to either stay and fight the animal or run away, cortisol is our fight or flight hormone. Our heart rate increases, our blood pressure would go up to pump more blood to our muscles to make us stronger and able to run faster, and sugars would be released into our blood to give us energy and any feelings of tiredness or hunger would go, we’d be in a pure survival model. Once we found a safe place we would come back to a normal resting, calm state where our body systems would return to normal. Our heart rate would reduce, our breathing rate would slow down and we could relax. We’d start to feel hungry again and we would want to sleep.

In modern day lives, this stress response is still helpful when it is short form for example, when taking a driving test,preparing for a presentation or an interview. However, many of us live busy lives therefore our brain releases a hormone called cortisol long term which tells us our body we are in fight or flight mode a lot of the time. This can be harmful to our bodies and has been shown to affect our physical and mental health. Recent research is showing how our body being in flight for long periods of time is linked to diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, poor help, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and more. We can't change the stressors in your life but what we can do is look at how you can bring your body back to resting state on a regular basis so that it experiences normal short term stress rather than long term stress.

If you would like further support with your mental heath then Health in Mind have a number of resources on their website along with details of how to make a self-referral for further support. Please remember, your GP is also a good person to talk to about your mental health

Stress Bucket

Think about stress as a bucket that fills up. As we go throughout our day and we come across situations that cause us to feel stressed our bucket starts filling up.  If our stress reaches the top of the bucket and starts overflowing our stress is too high. Feeling overwhelmed, being irritable, angry, not being able to think clearly, not feeling hungry, unable to sleep are all signs that our stress levels have become too high.

By engaging in activities that bring your body back to a resting state allows your stress levels to reduce, it’s like turning on a tap on at the bottom of the bucket to release some stress and prevent the bucket overflowing.  These restful activities will be different for everyone and you may need to think back to when you were younger to understand what is restful for you, it is often the activities that bring you joy and happiness and a sense of calm, some ideas are:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Having a warm bath
  • Yoga
  • Being in nature
  • Sitting quietly for 5 minutes
  • Art
  • Reading
  • Breathing activity
  • Cooking
  • Dancing
  • Singing
  • Laughing
  • Playing an instrument
  • Moderate exercise like walking
  •  Spending time with a friend

 

We have put together some tips to help you find a balance with your mental health and physical health. Now most people identified that feeling too busy is a cause of stress for them. The media tells us that people are busier and more stressed now than they have ever been. Time is our most valuable possession yet typically we don't give it the value it deserves.

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