The long road to self-care

By - Wednesday 10th May, 2017

How can Croydonians take better care of themselves?

Photo public domain.

The national carers’ strategy consultation (the draft Carers’ Strategy 2011-2016) agreed that “carers often neglect their own health and wellbeing”. This message comes as no surprise. It’s very easy for your health to deteriorate when others are a priority in our lives – but, of course, this is not just an issue for carers.

Carers do have a need for self-care, but striking a balance is key. The term ‘lunch is for wimps’ is synonymous with taking a break being seen as a form of weakness, an assumption that no rest means being more productive. That may be so for the very few, but not for all, and it does not guarantee that quantity of work achieved equates to quality of life. We all strive to do our best while contributing a great deal to society as well as to the community. In doing so, we can easily lose sight of our own wellbeing.

The Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2013-2018 gives added concern that “Croydon is in the bottom 10% of areas for satisfaction with the ability to see a GP quickly”. This gives more incentive than ever to improve social, mental and physical health; this can be achieved in a variety of ways. Some of the steps to improve your health provided by the consultation for carers can be adapted, improvised and applied to all.

Make time for yourself – for at least 10-30 minutes every day

They include making sure that your GP practitioner and other professionals are up to date with your general health checks, especially if you are a carer, plus ensuring that you have respite breaks. As well as physical activity, it is also good to slow down and have a rest. Make time for yourself – for at least 10-30 minutes every day. Keep your mind active and learn new things. This includes trying new activities and hobbies, or even reacquainting yourself with what you used to enjoy doing in the past. Join groups that have interests similar to yours. Meet up with friends and family, or they could come and see you. Chats on the phone can curb isolation; get out there and speak to your neighbours.

My journey towards self-care has not been an easy road and is ongoing still, but it has led me to meet a variety of people who are not only generous with their time and knowledge, but who are also very good at what they do, with the added bonus of being great listeners. It has encouraged me to resume my art after a long hiatus. Volunteering has brought me here to the Croydon Citizen and to the Click Clock Gallery.

In a world that relies so heavily on technology, it’s no easy decision to switch off

The Click Clock Gallery, based in the Clocktower Café, has been displaying a variety of artwork of all mediums for all ages for some time now, which makes what was once a blank canvas (the walls) an exciting feature. The ‘Photo of the Month’ competition, which started last May, is proving to be very popular. Other artistic outlets such as the Studio Upstairs, RISE, Turf Projects and the Elizabeth James Gallery further add to a growing creative scene in the borough, which I am happy to be a part of.

In a world that relies so heavily on technology, it’s no easy decision to switch off – but we are not machines, and must remember not to treat ourselves as if we were. Simply taking care of yourself, while creating an environment of self-care, makes a massive difference.

Loren Dixon

Loren Dixon

Loren is a full time carer for an adult sibling who is autistic and is a member of a Autism Family/Parent Support Group in Croydon. She also volunteers for the South London Botanical Institute when she has time and has worked in the cultural & heritage sector. After a long spell of not painting and drawing she has returned to it by finding enjoyment in a new medium to her, botanical illustration.

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