Tiers, tears and why self-care is a priority.

For months now everyone has been keen to get to the end of 2020 which has presented so many challenges. However what we are now realising is that 2021, or the beginning of at least may not represent much change in terms of many of the challenges we all continue to face.

Whilst there is now the hope that a vaccine represents, the next few months are likely to be uncertain and unpredictable with many potential anxieties just as much of the last year has been.

Christmas for many of us, like much of the year before, was not what we wanted, not what we planned for but what we had to adapt to whether we liked it or not.

So much of the current situation causes anxiety, it’s beyond our control, it forces us into situations we wouldn’t choose, it keeps on changing and remains uncertain – things many of us find very tough. But the situation is unlikely to change anytime soon and if we can’t change the situation maybe we need to think about changing ourselves.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no-one thinks of changing himself” Leo Tolstoy

During the spring lockdown many people testified to some elements of personal change – taking pleasure in small things, slowing down, reconnecting with nature and creativity and finding ways to maintain connections with other humans, something that is vital for all of us. But to equip ourselves to survive the next few months and whatever they hold then self-care needs to be a national and personal priority. When we are faced with emotions that take ‘effort’ to manage we are usually able to deal with them more effectively when we are feeling fairly well, both physically and mentally. We all know, in general terms at least, what we need to do to take care of ourselves, those things that help our physical wellbeing like a balanced diet, exercise and sleep and we know some of the things that help to nurture our emotional and mental wellbeing – yes there may be individual difference but there are a lot of activities that will help us all.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no-one thinks of changing himself” Leo Tolstoy

What stops us

Many people say the only thing that stops them caring for themselves is time. Yes, it can be tough in busy lives to do what we know is best for us but I think that is often the surface reason.

While I understand that for some, particularly for example those with 24/7 caring responsibilities, finding time to practice self-care is a huge challenge I think for many of us the ‘no time’ reason often hides deeper mindset issues. Many people because of past experiences or ideas put into our heads perhaps as children or during other significant relationships carry with us beliefs (often subconscious) that effectively stop us prioritising self-care. To complicate matters often these ideas or beliefs can seem very ‘noble’, caring for others as a priority implies a selflessness. Common beliefs are ideas like

  • My needs aren’t that important
  • I need to keep others happy
  • Other people will think I’m selfish
  • I’m not really worth looking after

But there are many more.

While these thoughts are circling around it is very easy NOT to prioritise our own wellbeing. But the truth is that every human is of value, taking care of yourself is not indulgent or a luxury it is an necessity and will sustain you if you are in a caring role enabling you to continue caring more effectively and probably for longer.


First step is to be honest with yourself about your wellbeing and self-care. Is it something that you prioritise or is it whatever you can fit in to what time is left after you’ve fulfilled all your other responsibilities?

 On the blog post link below you can download an action plan for wellbeing but before you do so check out the 10 tips then ask yourself how many of the recommended activities do you do – this isn’t an exclusive list it’s a few general ideas but use it to form the basis of your assessment.

Planning is key

Usually, things happen when we commit to them happening and make a plan. It would be easy to read this and think ‘yes ill practice more selfcare in 2021’ but unless you start to make some definite plans it is unlikely that you will change. You will notice as you scroll through the action plan you get a chance to make a plan. A personal plan about how you will look after yourself. But before that you are invited to write a statement about why you want to improve your self-care – this is an important stage too – when we are clear about our motivation for doing something, we are more likely to continue and not be put off by obstacles we face along the way. If you need a few ideas you can check out 9 ways to nurture your emotional wellbeing PDF below.


A priority for every one –

These current times cause us all to have to adapt and that is something that many find difficult. Managing the emotions that we will all feel as we may need to change again the way we work, survive without seeing key people or doing things that were a regular part of our routine that we maybe lost before, got back and might now have lost again, or coping with the many other pressures that these times bring, like financial hardship for some, strained relationships, worry about others, possible illness ourselves and many other things, will need us to be as robust as possible.

Ensuring that we all make self-care a priority will help and therefore it is something that we need to encourage in others too – especially children and young people. I would argue teaching children about emotions and learning to express these in ways which are healthy -not harmful to themselves or others – must be the priority of any curriculum. As adults we also need to recognise that if children don’t learn how and aren’t supported to manage their emotions, they will find managing their behaviour incredibly tough. Punishing or sanctioning them when they are struggling with emotions seems wholly inappropriate.

It doesn’t mean hours of navel gazing but it does mean every adult in every school understanding the motivations or drivers for behaviour and knowing how to support children and young people to care for themselves and to regulate, avoiding adding more stress to a student already stressed. You can read more about regulation, stress, calm and making wellbeing work in the blogs below.

So, while I may not be making any ‘resolutions’ my intention for the coming year is to make self-care a priority, encourage others to do the same and equip adults working with children and young people with the tools they need to support learning about self-care and recognising the need for connection, support for regulation, understanding the emotional root of most behaviours, especially for our most vulnerable students where the impact of trauma ACEs attachment is most evident.

I will also be referring to these great self-care affirmations from ep insight.


Wishing you all a safe, healthy and present New Year. For PDF Summary click here