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Self-care Secrets

We get it. Life is busy and having to add self-care into your everyday routine does not feel like your top priority or even possible. But self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming. In fact, incorporating a bit of self-care into your day will dial down your stress, improve your patience, and help you to stay focused. And when you have a brain injury, self-care is even more important!

 

Our Self-Care Secrets

 

Now, to be honest, these are not really secrets. They may be things you do a bit of already but it’s creating a consistent and balanced routine that is the secret to a happier and healthier life.


 

Tip #1 – Practising meditation and mindfulness


 

Do you find that your brain is constantly racing with thoughts and things to do? Well meditation is all about quieting the mind. Slowing down, pausing, and being in the moment.

 

On a brain injury programme, a neuropsychologist taught us about the mindful washing up. When you are washing up, don’t let your mind wander. Instead think about the sensations of it. The temperature of the water, the bubbles in it, the cleansing of the dish. It’s all about being in the moment and fully experiencing it. Now, washing up is obviously not the most exciting activity but this can apply to anything and everything that you do. For example, when you next go for a walk, pay attention to the colour of the trees or the sound of the birds and be grateful for that moment.

 

“Since having a brain injury this has been really powerful for me to be able to switch my mind off. I find that if I’m really fatigued and my brain is over stimulated, by going into that mindful moment it can release my fatigue and I feel a lot better.” - Mark

 

 

Tip #2 – Getting the right amount of sleep.


 

Sleep is so critical for your mind and body, but as you will know, getting a good nights’ sleep and brain injuries don’t go hand in hand. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to improving your sleep but creating a regular sleep pattern and sticking to it has worked well for me.

 

How do you do this? Simply go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day! Yes, that also means the weekend. When you break your routine at the weekend it can take 2 to 3 days to reset and then it’s not long before you break it again and the struggle to sleep continues.

 

Some other useful tips to help you fall asleep are:

 

  • Turning your bedroom into a calm and relaxing sanctuary. Remove any unnecessary clutter, make sure it is clean and tidy and add soft lighting.
  • Don’t over-stimulate your mind or body in the last hour before bed. You might think that doing this will tire you out, but it will only keep your brain and body more active, instead of signalling it to wind down.
  • Never have a nap after 5pm! Push through the tiredness until your usual bedtime.


 

Tip #3 – Eat a balanced diet.


 

Do you ever skip meals? When your day is hectic or you are feeling fatigued, you may forget or not feel up to making a meal. Especially if you are following a recipe and therefore must pay attention to instructions as well as cooking times and anything else you may be trying to do at the same time. But food is so important as it’s our energy source and provides not just our body but also our mind with vitamins and nutrients that help us get through the day.

 

You will have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but according to a study by Mintel, a fifth of Brits skip breakfast and those that do eat in the morning veer towards convenience over nutrition.

 

“Many years ago, I used to skip breakfast, go into work and feel really hungry around 11 o’clock and I would run on empty for those few hours. Since putting a breakfast plan in place and having a healthy smoothie, my body feels fuelled and I have more energy throughout the day.” – Mark

 

Instead of following a strict diet (which is not maintainable), we live by the 80/20 rule. This consists of eating a balanced and nutritious diet 80% of the time which leaves 20% for treats or meals out.

 

Another part of your diet that many people forget about is hydration! Your body and brain are made up of a high percentage of water, so you need to make sure it is staying replenished. If this is something you struggle with, you can buy water bottles with lines telling you how much you should have drunk every hour of the day.


 

Tip #4 – Regular exercise.



 

There is lots of different advice out there for how much you should exercise but we recommend doing something every day that raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes. Now this doesn’t have to involve going to the gym or for a run. It could be going for a walk around the park, yoga, or if you have mobility issues, a seated exercise.

 

The key to regular exercise is finding something you enjoy so it doesn’t seem a chore. So, keep trying new things, join a group class or partner up with a friend and make it into a social activity too!

 

“We love to go paddle boarding as being out on the water and breathing in fresh air also helps to calm the mind, as well as toning our bodies.” - Jules

 


S-H-E-D


 

An easy to way remember all these tips is with the acronym SHED. This stands for:

 

Sleep

Hydration

Exercise

Diet

 

Think about your shed every day.

 

Am I getting regular sleep?

Am I drinking plenty of water?

Am I raising my heart rate or moving my body for at least 30 minutes?

Am I following the 80/20 rule for a balanced diet?

 

If you’re not sure if you are doing this, then we have created an easy-to-use self-care tracker. Simply fill this out throughout the day to make sure you are looking after yourself until it becomes a natural part of your routine.


Download the self-care tracker.