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Health leaders in Somerset are asking you to love yourself this February by taking responsibility for maintaining your own mental and physical wellbeing by practising self-care.

Self-care is about understanding what you need to do to look after yourself. It’s not a selfish act, as by looking after ourselves, we are also in a better position to look after others. If practised properly, self-care can be key in promoting a healthy, balanced life.

Self-care means different things to different people, but there are some basic steps you can take to help you on your self-care journey, such as:

  1. Keep it simple – Starting is always the hardest part, so don’t set your goals too high. Start with small changes until they become routine, and then gradually start to do more
  2. Plan – Self-care needs to be actively planned. Try adding some notes in your calendar to remind you
  3.  Create a list of things you don’t like doing, and make a promise to yourself that you will stop doing them (e.g. checking/writing work emails at night)
  4. Eat a healthy, nutritious diet
  5. Make sure you are getting the right amount of sleep (7-8 hours a night)
  6. Exercise regularly
  7. Practice mindfulness and/or meditation
  8. Spend time with your loved ones.

Dr Peter Bagshaw, GP and Mental Health Lead for Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Keeping active is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing; this doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym or find your running shoes. Taking a walk, being active in the garden or even dancing around the living room to your favourite music can all boost your mood.”

“Being outside is helpful even when the weather is not great. Research shows that contact with the natural world can boost our wellbeing.”

“Spending time with the people who are important to you can support your mental wellbeing and make you feel better. If you can’t meet up face to face, then why not call up a friend or family member for a chat? Or drop them a text?”

If you do start to feel unwell, your local Pharmacy can help. Superintendent Pharmacy Manager for Crewkerne Pharmacy, Fivos Valagiannopoulos said: “Your local pharmacist can help with all sorts of health care advice and treatment without an appointment, as well as minor, short term conditions we can also help with services such as stop smoking, weight management and sexual health. If we feel you need it, we can also signpost you to another NHS service (such as your GP). We are here to help.”