HAVE YOU LEARNT TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF? Looking after ourselves is not always an easy task. We may not be in the habit of doing it, or we may not fully know what that means. We may be busy looking after others, family, friends, partners or work. It is important to take time to reflect and consider how well our we taking care of ourselves. A further difficulty is the belief that putting ourselves first is being selfish. If we have learnt it is not okay to look after ourselves, and honour the importance of getting our needs met, or that it is more important to put others first it is understandable that we may have this negative belief. Unfortunately, these experiences can get in the way of what is actually taking responsibility for ourselves. ARE WE ADDRESSING OUR RESPONSIBILITIES? There are the typical areas to consider such as eating, exercise, rest, sleep and positive activities. There are also other areas which we may not be so aware of, or just take for granted and maybe not even consider the possibility of making changes to such as: – unhelpful stressful relationships: we may endure being around people who are very negative and seem to deplete our energy – can we do something about this? – persisting with things which do not feel right: we may be aware of a lack of enjoyment and fulfilment possibly with work, friends, and family – is there something we need to change, what are our options? – ignoring what are emotions are communicating to us: what are our emotions telling us, they serve a purpose to let us know what we need, or need to change – do we understand them? – difficulty to express what we experience: are we able to talk to anyone, are we able to talk the way we need to? can we get our thoughts and feelings across safely? – do we have boundaries with others: do we have clear rules for what is okay and not okay and do we stick by them? Boundaries are important to protect ourselves, and to be able to say no is essential to our well-being- do we have difficulty with boundaries? LACK OF SELF CARE AND COUNSELLING ISSUES Lack of self care and difficulty in self care can often lead or contribute to stress, low mood, anxiety, psychosomatic illness, low self esteem, and other issues. Self care is an important aspect of learning, self development and counselling work. It involves connecting, accepting, and taking responsibility for ourselves, and addressing what is getting in the way of this.