On an aeroplane, one of the first things you are taught is that if something should happen to cause oxygen masks to come down, you have to put on your own before tending to someone else. That’s because you can’t be of use to others if you can’t help yourself.
The same is true of self-care. Taking time out for yourself on a daily basis, and finding the balance between what you need and what others need of you is so important to your wellbeing.
In the fire and rescue service, we’re used to putting other people’s needs before our own. But self-care isn’t selfish. It doesn’t mean only thinking about yourself. It means self-preservation, taking time out of your day, even if it’s just 15 minutes, to do something that’s just for you.
Self-care looks different for everyone, because we’re all different. Maybe it’s reading a magazine, or sitting quietly in the garden. It could be having a hot bath or taking a detour through a park on your walk home. Or it could be sitting down to eat your dinner, rather than grabbing something on the go. It’s about stopping just for a moment, and taking an active role in protecting our own sense of wellbeing.
So important is self-care that the charity Action for Happiness – who have the The Dalai Lama as their patron – has dedicated the whole month of September to putting yourself first. They’ve produced this calendar that gives you some daily pointers to ensure you’re giving yourself some care each day.
One of the most important things to remember is, be kind to yourself, it may feel alien to you, but self-care is important and can have a positive impact on your wellbeing.
And remember, if you’re struggling and need advice, we’re here. Call our Support Line today on 0800 389 8820 or visit www.firefighterscharity.org.uk and see how we can help with your wellbeing. Because everyone deserves to live well, even you. And you can’t pour from an empty cup.