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Enjoy the articles Gill has written that share her personal journey and experiences from which she continues to learn from.

4 great tips for self-care - are we looking after ourselves?

I was trying to contact my GP recently and I was told by the answerphone message that I was number 29 in the queue. This made me laugh out loud, I put the phone down and called again later. But I realised how frustrating it could be, if I had had a tight schedule or needed to get to work; or how it could escalate fear or anxiety if I was wanting an appointment on that same day, because there were already 28 people in front of me.

I know many people have had similar experiences and can feel angry that we can’t access our doctors for support like we used to. It was necessary to implement changes with the onset of Covid, and many professionals, dentists, solicitors and doctors have had to work differently. GP’s have been seeing patients all the time, but they put the telephone triage system in place to reduce the face to face contact. We have previously been used to being able to talk to our GP’s, sit in front of them and tell them our worries, and for some people, it may feel like they have become a friend. So when we’re feeling unwell, delays of investigations, tests or simply re-assurance can feel devastating.

The surgeries are continuing to have to manage their increased workload differently in the past couple of years with people becoming more unwell and needing their services.

But what if, we view this as an opportunity to embrace change?

What if we were to take more care more ourselves and then the system wouldn’t be so overworked? So many illnesses and diseases are preventable, we could be much more pro-active about how we live; and pay more attention to our health that we might pre-empt an illness occurring. We all know prevention is better than cure. We clean our teeth regularly because this has become a habit from childhood, what if we were to implement other things into our lifestyle that would support us more? We could

1 Take regular exercise.

This could be a simple programme we can vary on a daily basis, some exercises and stretches one day, a walk or a swim on other days, a cycle ride or take out a gym membership. The time taken may vary with our schedules, age and fitness levels but the important thing is we can exercise to suit whatever our age.

2 Take some time out in the day.

Make sure we have some space to eat lunch, to chill, to get away from the computer, breathe some fresh air outside, be in nature or do some meditation. Or we could take a bath and early night one evening, simply do something we enjoy on a regular basis that supports the body to relax. Then we can find we have a connection to ourselves on the inside when we give ourselves some space instead of being constantly drawn out from outside ourselves.

3 Learn to eat to live and support the body.

We can get very stuck and conditioned to eat at mealtimes when we might not actually be hungry: listening and feeling into what the body wants is a great place to start to understand ourselves. If we are comfort eating, observing our patterns why this happens can be very revealing. Once we observe, then we can choose differently.

4 Be kind to ourselves and others.

Most people find we are our worst critic, we beat ourselves up far more than anyone else can. We don’t need to aim for perfection, it is possible accept ourselves and others for who we are.

These small changes can make a huge difference to how we feel and live with deeper care and self-love.

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