What is self-care?
Self-care is a concept which has soared in popularity in recent years and has seen people of all ages seeking mental and physical health improvements through small, affordable pleasures and day-to-day practices which fit into a busy lifestyle. Mindfulness, meditation and digital detoxes are typical examples of self-care.
Self-care originated from medical professionals teaching patients to care for themselves under their supervision and has since been adopted by those in high pressure jobs to provide an escape from everyday stresses and worries. Recent mental health research carried out by Dr Will McConn-Palfreyman of Liverpool John Moores University across all sectors of the racing industry revealed that the relentlessness of certain jobs in racing can negatively affect mental health. Taking care of yourself and allowing yourself to slow down and relax can have positive effects on all aspects of your life.
The rise of self-care
Self-care has become particularly popular among young people, also known as Generation Z; those born between the mid-1900s and the mid-2000s. Young people are more aware of mental health issues than ever before and are proactively seeking effective ways to look after their own health. As a racing employee you may find yourself working long days, weekends and sometimes through the night. Below are a few ways you can practice self-care despite the demands of the industry:
6 ways to practice self-care
1. Set aside me-time – set aside time for yourself, either between split shifts or on your days off, when you can relax and indulge in your favourite pastimes. This includes a hobby you enjoy, reading a book, taking a bath or listening to music. Make time for whatever makes you feel relaxed.
2. Mindfulness and Meditation – research by Youthsight carried out in 2019 showed that 62% of 13-15 years old had practiced mindfulness and 27% practice it regularly. Mindfulness involves clearing your mind of all thoughts and focusing on the present. You can even take time during your shifts while walking to and from the gallops, for example, to focus fully on the present. Just ten minutes of mindfulness per day can positively affect your mental health. There are also plenty of mindfulness and meditation apps and podcasts available such as Headspace and the Calm app.
3. Digital Detox – turn off all digital devices and allow your eyes and mind to take a break. Set a time each day when you put aside phones, tablets and laptops. Too much time on devices can affect your sleep, subsequently affecting your mood and productivity. Early morning starts for stud and stable staff means a good night’s sleep can be pivotal to enjoying your job and increasing your productivity.
4. Exercise - take time each day or three times per week to exercise. Although your job in a yard, at a stud or on a racecourse may involve physical exercise, other non-work related exercise can help you to relax. Go for a run, to the gym or take part in a team sport. Look up your local sporting events and clubs. For example, The Great Local Run in Newmarket takes place at the gallops every Sunday at 11.15am over 2km or 5km, it's a fun way to get some exercise and meet new people. If you are short of time, go for a walk or practice yoga at home. Twenty minutes of exercise per day helps to boost your mood and reduce anxiety.
5. Spend time with friends and family – a busy lifestyle means you may not always fit those close to you in to your lives. Spending time with friends, family or those within your work circle on your days off can improve your happiness and help to avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation.
6. Spend time in nature – spending time in nature can help you to reduce stress and be more mindful. Take your dog or a friend’s dog for a walk or find local walks, parks or nature reserves to enjoy.
For more information on self-care see the following links.