by Clare Tyler
Communities and Support Manager

When adopters talk about self care, most think it is not important, not right we should put ourselves first or it involves eating cake. Other say they have no time, don’t know what to do for self care or just have no enthusiasm for self care.

Now, if I am totally honest, what I would most like to be doing in the world is eating cake and calling it self care.I really need no excuse to turn to cake or chocolate!

I knew that I needed to look past the cake for my self care during COVID 19. If I was going to be working from home, social distancing, having a husband at home 24/7 and a hormonal 16 year old whose whole life had been “ruined” with the sudden end of year 11 I needed to step away from the cake.

Last January I started a couch to 5km group. One to try and start running, two to get out the house for an hour and week and three to meet new people as we had recently moved.

It went fairly well, it was hard work and just as I got to the 5km mark, I popped my pelvis out.

I recovered and started the group again in September. I did OK but it was no easier than I felt in January. I stopped when life just caught up and I did not prioritise my self care. I really noticed the negative effect this had on my mental health.

Suddenly it was January again and the running group encouraged me to go back. I did and this time it felt different. The whole group are fantastic, make no judgements but just encourage. Don’t tell anyone this but I nearly started to enjoy running. I enjoyed seeing the progress I was making, meeting up with the members and feeling part of a social support group.

Then suddenly COVID 19 comes along. Life is turned up on it’s head like no one has ever known before.

I could have taken self care to the cake tin but I decided for me I needed to keep the exercise up. Boris is allowing exercise outside once a day at the moment and I have taken full advantage of this. I started walking my dog further and really enjoying the views I saw. I stopped taking for granted the ability to go out for a walk when I wanted to and found myself planning my day around my walks. My poor little dog has very short legs which are getting shorter by the day. The walks have allowed me to have some me time, to listen to my music and take in the fresh air. For me this has been my self care. The amazing weather has helped. I have taken photos and shared on a Facebook group for people unable to go out as they have to self isolate for 12 weeks.

I also needed some motivation to keep up with the running. I arranged a couple of “virtual” running group meet ups. Friends able to run their route, at their pace for their self care. It has worked brilliantly keeping us all motivated knowing that we were all going out at the same times despite having 70 physical miles between us. We started with a couple of 10 min out and back runs and have worked up to 5km runs. Anyone who knows me knows I am certainly not build for running but it is working. Giving me a sense of achievement.

For me, this is my self care.

Self care is so important and even more so now. Lots of our traditional self care options have gone but it means we need to be creative in what we can do for self care. Creative on how we can motivate each other and find self care that will work for us.

Self care takes many different forms but one thing is common, no matter what you decide to do for your self care and that is it has to make you feel better. If that is a glass of wine, a slice of cake, meditation, taking 2 minutes to put moisturiser on, exercise or just sitting and taking 5 minutes for you, then that is great. Do not feel guilt at doing self care, now more than ever we need to look after ourselves.