Self Care Guide

Have you eaten in the last four hours?

Food is fuel. Food also affects our mood. If your blood sugar drops you may feel tired, irritable and depressed. Have something to eat. Be mindful and eat slowly without distractions. Engage your senses by noticing colours, smells, sounds, textures and tastes.

Need some inspiration? Click here for the Well@Wolves healthy recipe cards.

Click here for more information on food and mood from Mind.

You may be lacking certain vitamins and minerals which are contributing to how you feel. Click here for more information.


Have you had 8 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours?

The amount that each person needs is different, however it is recommended that a healthy adult should sleep on average, between 7 and 9 hours a night. Napping does not make up for inadequate night-time sleep. However, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.

Tips for getting the best night sleep

Environment
Quiet and dark, comfortable bed, temperature just right.

Before bed
Milky drink, listen to music, relaxation routine (stretch, breathing exercises), reading, herbal remedies (lavender, camomile, valerian), exercise early in the day.

Avoid
Sugar, spicy, heavy, late night meals, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, late evening exercise, stress, television.

Beware of ‘blue light’! The backlit ‘blue light’ in electronics suppress melatonin production– the hormone that helps you sleep. Stop using these devices two hours before you go to sleep.


Are you in any physical pain?

If there is something your doctor has prescribed you for pain, you should take it or do it. Beware of dosages of over-the-counter painkillers. Never exceed the recommended dosage and beware of contraindications if you take other types of medication.

For aches and pains you may also want to apply a heating pad or a cold pack on whatever hurts. If you have a stomach ache, a hot tea may help. If you have a headache it may be because you haven’t drunk enough fluids or are having caffeine withdrawals.

If the pain continues or is severe book an appointment to see you GP, call 111 for medical advice, or go to your nearest A&E.


Is something about your environment distressing, uncomfortable or unsafe?

Are your surroundings dirty or smelly?
Set a timer for 5 minutes and take care of the biggest problems. Chores can be exhausting, so do a 5 minute clean up to make yourself and your home happier.

There are too many people here, or people I don't feel comfortable with.
Try to remove yourself from situations that are overwhelming. If you can't relocate entirely, take frequent breaks or tune out with headphones.

Does your body feel uncomfortable, sweaty, or dirty?
Have a bath or a shower. If you are unable to take a shower try washing your face, change your clothes or use dry shampoo.

Are you unsafe?
0808 200 0247 National Domestic Violence helpline for women
0808 801 0327 National Domestic Violence helpline for men
0800 599 9247 Karma Nirvana helpline for victims of forced marriage & honour based violence
999 in an emergency


Is there something on your mind?

Set a timer for 15 minutes and work on a solution. If it's something you can change, then great. If not, do your best to reach out to someone and talk about it.

Try journaling and writing down your thoughts, especially before you sleep if your worries are keeping you awake. Try writing a ‘worry script’ to help with hypothetical worries. Click here for worksheet.


Do you feel anxious, nervous or on edge?

Set a timer for 15 minutes and do something to take care of that worry. Maybe chip away at a task that seems impossible.

To stop feeling spacey or slipping into the spiral of anxiety, try some grounding exercises:

• Breathe slowly and steadily from your core. Imagine letting fear and worry go, evaporating along with each breath.
• Wiggle your fingers, tap your feet. Pay attention to the movement. You are in control of what your body is doing, right here and now.
• Eat or drink something. Is it hot, or cold? Sweet, or sour?
• Meditate or use distractions like television or music to help settle down.
• Use your voice. Pick up a book and read the first paragraph you find out loud.
• Write out what’s going on. Keep writing until you start to notice it makes a difference.
• Take a shower/bath. Notice the sensations of the water.
• Take a look outside. Count the number of trees and street signs.
• Exercise. Jump up and down on the spot. Try some gentle yoga or ride a bike.
• Hold onto something comforting. Maybe a blanket or an old stuffed toy.
• Laugh. Even if that’s hard. Just the act of laughing about something can break that spinning out of control feeling.


Are you feeling depressed, sad or upset?

Keep a mood diary
This can help you keep track of any changes in your mood, and you might find that you have more good days than you think.
Click here for examples.

Challenge your depressed thinking
Click here for a worksheet.

Focus Outwards
Setting small, achievable goals for purposeful ways to distract yourself and engage with life is another very helpful strategy.

Do something pleasurable and fun
Even if you don’t feel like it! It is one of the quickest ways to make a difference to low mood and depression.

Unburden yourself
It can be a great relief to get things off your chest. For some people it helps a lot if they know things will be kept confidential (e.g.. talking to a professional).


Are you feeling lonely or in need of attention?

Make new connections
Try joining a new group, club, volunteer or sign up for a mentor from the SU’s Connect Peer Mentoring project

Avoid comparing yourself to others
Especially on social media. Consider having time away from social media. Don’t forget everything is edited and filtered. What is shared across our social networks only broadcasts the positive aspects of people’s lives.

Online support such as the Big White Wall
Click here for link.

Freephone the Samaritans 116 123 who are available 24 hours, 7 days a week


Do you feel foggy?

“Brain fog” isn’t a medical condition. It’s a term used for certain symptoms that can affect your ability to think. You may feel confused or disorganized or find it hard to focus or put your thoughts into words.

Drink more water. A mere 2% drop in our body’s water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic maths, and difficulty focusing on smaller print.

Reduce stress. Meditation is a great stress reduction technique that offers significant added brain benefits and its free.

Physical exercise increases endorphins and gets more glucose and oxygen flowing to the brain. Physical exercise burns off the stress hormone cortisol and stimulates new brain cell formation.

Consuming foods you’re allergic or sensitive to can certainly put you in a mental fog.

Just one bad night can affect your memory, concentration, coordination, mood, judgment, and ability to handle stress the following day.

If brain fog persists, speak to your GP as it be may caused by an underlying health condition or is a side effect of a medication.


It's Time To Reassess

We’ve reached the end of this self-care guide. Hopefully, you’ve worked through the guide and found what you needed to feel well. If you’ve worked your way through the guide, tried everything and still don’t feel well then:

• Speak to your GP. Click here for help with speaking to your GP about your mental health. Click here to find your local GP.
• Click here for Well@Wolves activities and workshops
• Click here for the University Counselling information
• Click here for the self-help resources
• Click here for the external support agencies information
• Click here for your local Mental Health Crisis contact numbers

Don’t do anything that is bad for you, like feeding addiction or harming yourself or others. If you need to manage the urge to self-harm, download the Calm Harm app on your smartphone. For more information, click here