Self-care is reported to be on the rise in the UK. But what does self-care actually mean and why is it so important that people take self-care seriously?

What is self-care?

As the name suggests, self-care focuses on taking ownership of one’s own health and wellbeing. Self-care can mean many different things to different people and can relate to both mental and physical health.

Paying closer attention to your health and wellbeing can be as simple as putting aside more time for exercise, placing more emphasis on quality sleep or making improvements to your diet.

Why is self-care important?

It is estimated that 75% of diseases suffered in the UK today are lifestyle diseases – those that develop as a result of the way we live. Problems such as type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, many types of cancer and mental health conditions such as depression can all be, in part, attributed to the way we choose to look after our bodies and minds.

In a fast-paced, constantly shifting society, it can be hard to pay attention to the demands of your body and mind. But it is clear that self-care has an important role to play in supporting the healthcare system and alleviating the pressure on hospitals and busy doctor’s surgeries.

How to look after your mental health

1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from mental health problems each year. Yet, despite 25% of people being afflicted by mental issues, there is still often reluctance among people to discuss their problems.

Mental health issues can be related to a broad range of factors, many of which stem from stresses and strains in everyday life or a physiological problem such as weight gain or hair loss, which impacts on self esteem.

Here are a few simple yet effective ways you can treat your mental health:

Incorporate therapeutic activities into your daily routine: These can mean something different to everyone, but simple acts like breathing exercises, having a bath, or walking outdoors can help unwind the mind and keep you calm.

Avoid drugs and alcohol: They may seem like a form of relief, but indulging in drugs or alcohol only makes your symptoms worse in the long run.

Treat your physical symptoms: If your mental health has suffered due to concerns over issues such as weight gain or even impotence, getting these treated can help you feel better overall.

How to look after your physical health

Your physical health is what we most often think we need a doctor for, but sometimes we can treat the problem ourselves. £2 billion a year is spent by the NHS on conditions which could be treated at home, showing that there is actually a lot you can do yourself to keep your body healthy:

Drink water: It sounds obvious, but keeping hydrated works wonders for our physical health. Try to always have a bottle of water beside you at work, and aim for the equivalent of around eight large glasses a day.

Exercise: Moving around increases your circulation, aids weight loss, and even helps prevent diseases like type II diabetes. Just a short walk a day can greatly increase your physical health.

Watch what you eat: A healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, fibre, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats helps make you healthier and more energized. Try to eat three full meals a day instead of grazing, and pay attention to when you are hungry and full.

If you smoke, stop: The body of evidence against smoking is overwhelming today. Smoking harms you and those around you, and makes serious conditions like heart disease and lung cancer much more likely.

Ask for help when you need it: Self-care doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the doctors at all. Instead it means taking charge of your own health and making lifestyle changes that not only tackle an individual symptom but also improves the underlying condition.

If you are looking for support to help you take the first steps towards change, why not speak to the experienced team here at Express Pharmacy. You can contact us by phone or via our handy Live Chat tool for fast, discreet advice.