Sleep. Something we all do and are all familiar with. Whether we are an 8 hour a night person or refreshed with less, we all need it. It is essential to our survival.
Scientists think that pretty much every land dwelling mammal experiences sleep. Even dolphins sleep – although with half their brain at a time, which is a rather clever way of them staying alert enough to avoid predators and stay afloat to breathe.
Scientific studies mean we now know a bit more about sleep and why it is important, although there is still a lot that we do not know. Why we need daily sleep is still not certain for example.
So what is sleep all about and why do we need it? Let’s start with a little bit of science…
Looking after your physical and mental health and wellbeing requires constant attention. There are many factors that impact your wellbeing which fluctuates in response to your life circumstances and experiences. In the Eat, Move, Be Happy Mental Health series, we explore the link between our physical and mental health more, introducing self-awareness as an important tool in helping you develop good health and wellbeing practise. See How Healthy are You? and How can we fight the stigma of mental illness? In Eat Better we also talk about the essential role of regular debrief time in helping you develop healthier eating habits.
When something is worth valuing, it also requires effort and energy to build and maintain. For example, people accept that relationships, be they with a partner, friendships or colleagues, need attention to be at their best. When learning something new or developing a skill, you expect to spend time to understand the theory and knowledge required and then to practise the steps in how to apply the knowledge or skill in the right way. You are prepared for this to take time, with some repetition, mistakes and for this not to go without a hitch or two along the way. No-one expects to be able to jump behind the wheel of a car for the first time and be an expert driver.
Maintaining optimum health and wellbeing is no different. It doesn’t happen by magic and requires energy and effort to understand your personal complexities and nuances that help you be the best you can be. You know yourself better than other people do.
This module looks at ways you can help yourself develop greater awareness of your health and wellbeing and channel your energy and effort more effectively.
Self-care is commonly referred to in relation to looking after mental health and wellbeing and is often mis-understood. I have heard it described as being indulgent or selfish, putting personal needs above those of others and as a practise for people who want to spend time alone.
Broadly speaking, self-care is about looking after yourself and it seems like common sense and pretty straight forward doesn’t it?
Human behaviour tells us time and time again that common sense is not so common. There are many examples of seemingly obvious choices that would benefit our health and wellbeing, for example eating less junk food, exercising more frequently and yet we don’t do it. We have looked at why this happens in What is Stopping you from Starting?
Self-care is another classic knowing-doing gap (see Turn Your Plan into Action for more on this). On a basic level it makes perfect sense and not many people would disagree – and yet we don’t always think this applies to us.
This article will help by:
Improving awareness of what self-care is and what it isn’t
Challenging thinking about your current self-care approach
Sharing practical Top Tips on how you can broaden your range of self-care resources and practise it more of the time.
Resilience is often thought of as a quality that some people have and described as the ability to ‘bounce back’. Lots of social and psychological research confirms this is only part of the story.
According to the charity Mind:
“Resilience is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing.”
This makes sense to us at Eat, Move, Be Happy. We would also add resilience is learning from tough experiences, gaining confidence and growing emotionally stronger as a result. We particularly like thinking about resilience as something everyone can develop with practice, rather than a personality trait that people either do or don’t have.