How to look after yourself

How can we flourish in life, even when things aren’t going well? Associate Professor Peggy Kern from the Centre for Wellbeing Science (CWS) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education takes us through the ways we can not only look after ourselves but thrive.

We all want to feel good and grow in different areas of our lives. But regardless of our background and choices, life can sometimes be challenging.

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as a small amount can motivate us towards action. But once it becomes too much, we can become overwhelmed, like a computer with too many programs running. Just like we need to reboot the computer to restore functioning, we need ways to restore ourselves.

The activities that we do to look after our health and wellbeing are referred to as self-care. Activities might involve engaging in healthy behaviour, taking time to rest and reflect, or doing activities that make you feel good. Proactive in nature, they help to restore our mind and body and prevent burnout.

It’s easy to keep up good habits when everything is going well, but how can we maintain self-care when life becomes stressful? And how can you incorporate simple activities into your busy lifestyle?

Assoc. Professor Kern explains the I-CARE framework – using our intelligence, applying compassion, being authentic, investing in our relationships and using easy strategies to help you make looking after yourself a priority in daily life.

These activities don’t need to be difficult or time consuming and have many positive benefits. Not only do they make us feel better, but they can improve our relationships, “Through self-compassion and being kind to ourselves, we’re better able to be kind to other people.”

Learning to thrive during life’s highs and lows is very much about the simple things that restore us. As Assoc. Professor Kern states, “Thriving does not happen overnight; rather, it is through the little things that we do that we are able to bring out the best in ourselves and others, despite the stresses and difficulties that we might encounter along the way.”

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