What will you do for Self Care Week?

Or indeed #SelfCareForLife?

So. It is #SelfCareWeek. What does that mean? I was very honoured to be asked to give the keynote speech at the annual Self Care conference. It came at a particularly busy period for WhoseShoes, particularly #MatExp, so there was a certain irony about whether I should be cramming in a major presentation about self-care ... Or just going for a walk.

Is self-care something that starts when diagnosed with a long-term condition. Or, is it all of us? Every day? For life?

I arrived at Imperial College. So far so good. My sense of direction is pretty hopeless... which can be stressful. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

I like to look for good omens. If you are following #MatExp, you will know that lemon biscuits are always a good thing! ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ‹

Self care for life. How many of us do this consistently? How can we improve?

I am invited to join the Board of the Self Care Forum. I am very honoured. But if I do this, will I be exercising self care? Where would this new demand on my time come from? Is it time I should be spending walking, thinking, writing? Having fun with my family? Or doing precisely nothing? ๐Ÿ˜Ž

It was as interesting programme. I had two โ€˜slotsโ€™ : leading Table 12 in the World Cafe around inspiring social movement thinking ...

And then, an hour at the end of the day, putting theory into practice, based on the powerful social movements we have built - in particular #MatExp and #CovMindTheGap.

Different things work for different people โ€“ and in different situations

So many tips out there ... โ€“ it can all be rather stressful ! ๐Ÿ˜‚

So, what works for โ€˜my gangโ€™? What do my #CovMindTheGap pals say? I asked them to help me. "Creativity IS self care" says Melissa, creator of #FeelGoodCom.

Wild swimming


My lovely Mum @Gills_Mum loved reading. Give her a book and the world would disappear.

And she loved drawing...

... and horses.

#CovMindTheGap is extraordinary- check it out.

There seem to be divergent views about the โ€˜scopeโ€™ of self care. And of course social movement thinking means that it is organic: people will decide what they want and need it to be, not just follow a government edict. There is a feeling that NHS England thinks self care starts and ends with long term conditions but self-care offers huge scope for prevention and early management of our holistic lives and health needs. It is hardly surprising when the cost to the NHS is so huge. However, if no effort is put into education to help people understand how to try to prevent certain conditions, then nothing will change!

i enjoyed the world cafe session.

I was surprised that social movement thinking seemed a new concept. It was the 19th annual conference. How had things changed? . Campaigns like #thisgirlcan are very powerful.

I was proud of my social media credentials ...

But social media in itself carries health warnings. Isnโ€™t it all complicated? ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Some great campaigns are coming from leading hospitals - Lewisham and Greenwich are always doing something innovative. I love collaborating with them with various imaginative Whose Shoes projects.

There were some really practical examples of promoting self care. Alyson McGregor spoke about Altogether Better. It is one of my favourites.

A lot of the focus was around long- term conditions. This is a powerful graphic showing the very small percentage of time people with long-term conditions spend with healthcare professionals compared with the time they spend managing their own health. There is a lot of work to do to get more joined up thinking around healthy life styles.

Seeing people with long-term conditions as whole human beings rather than just a โ€˜set of servicesโ€™ leads to culture change. People with skills and assets and aspirations, like the rest of us.

Lunch-time! A lemon tart! ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ‹

My turn came. Quite a tall order. Trying to fire people up at the end of the day to want to take personal responsibility and lead change around self care.

I gave participants a mini taste of Whose Shoes, selecting some scenarios and poems around system change and behaviour change to get people thinking.

It was good to see people tweeting and hopefully better understanding the power of social movements to build networks of people who share the same passions and make things happen much more quickly.

I felt that real social movement thinking was something quite new. I was chuffed that Austen commented that perhaps they had been overthinking some of the issues. He seemed rather chuffed with his #JFDI badge ๐Ÿ˜‰

It felt like a rewarding day and it was good to spread the word about #MatExp and tell more people about Whose Shoes. Whose Shoes is being used increasingly to explore issues around self care and share more imaginative approaches to health and well-being, particularly through #CovMindTheGap. I bumped into Floโ€™s husband as I left and realised I was still wearing a #MatExp sash and #JFDI and #CovMindTheGap badges! ๐Ÿ‹

#CovMindTheGap - unlocking the richness of the community

It was a nice afternoon and I decided to walk back across Hyde Park, enjoying the sunshine and reflecting on the conference. How much do we exercise self care? How much do I?

I wasnโ€™t the only one needing to get my bearings ๐Ÿ˜‰

In London, you seem to see more and more people out running and cycling. Will it make a difference to health outcomes?

I am not a runner. But I do like walking. I often walk across London, especially on the way home if I have an open train ticket and there is not the pressure of time.

And try to go walking and eat well as far as possible

People in Hyde Park were chilling out

Flowers on the street lift everyoneโ€™s mood

Cycling in London seems hazardous at the best of times but particularly without a helmet. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

And everywhere I looked, there were lots of opportunities for people to exercise and get / stay fit.

Sometimes self care is just getting away from it all for a few days

Itโ€™s good to exercise but sometimes, when you are tired, looking after yourself by making life a little easier can be good.

Little luxuries

Seeing a show or having a laugh with a friend

Or treating yourself to UNhealthy options can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered

Taking time to stop and reflect

Living in the moment and appreciating what is good about your own life and not comparing with others

Trying something new. Just diving in ...


So what will you do for #selfcareweek?