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Self-Care Self Help Guide


Survivors of abuse can neglect their self- care, particularly if they hold self-blame, guilt or shame about their experiences. However, learning to self- soothe when you are feeling distressed is essential.

Eating well

Studies have shown that depression can be exacerbated by a lack of nutrients in the body.

Here are some tips for eating well;

• Eat a healthy breakfast.
• Avoid snacking between meals or stick with healthy snacks such as fruit or nuts.
• Plan ahead- make several portions of healthy food at a time which you can then freeze for times when you are busy.
• Put the fun back into your cooking- experiment with new recipes or foods.
• Make the most of foods that are in season.
• Turn off the television while you eat and really be mindful about what you are eating, its textures and tastes.
• Invite a friend for around to eat with you.
• Listen to your body – stop when you feel full.
• Try growing your own fruit, vegetables or herbs.


Studies by scientists have shown that exercise can be directly linked to positive mental health. It can give you more energy and a more positive outlook for dealing with everyday life and life’s challenges.

Health experts recommend adults have moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes per day and this could include walking, running or sports. Different people might prefer different types of activity and may prefer to undertake activities in a team, with a friend or on their own.

If you are not sure what activities you would like, try some new things out.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a specific activity – there are small changes you can make to everyday which can help your fitness levels which don’t take much time, effort or organisation.

If you are at home you can;

• Walk around whilst you are on the telephone.
• Energetic housework and gardening can really increase exercise levels.
• Use TV ad breaks as a chance to get up and stretch or do a quick chore.
• Park the car a little further away when going to supermarket.

If you work in an office;

• Park your car a little further away from work.
• Get off the bus stop or train a stop earlier.
• Walk up the stairs rather than using a lift or walk up the escalator.
• Walk a longer route round to the photocopier, printer etc.
• Walk to your colleagues office rather than sending an email.
• Enjoy a walk during your lunch break.

Sleeping well

If you are experiencing nightmares, flashbacks and heightened levels of anxiety, you may be having issues with your sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to exhaustion, and contribute to anxiety and depression and adversely affect our physical and mental health in many ways.

Tips for a better nights sleep;

• Don’t panic if you cant sleep or put pressure on yourself, this just creates more anxiety, there is nothing wrong with getting up and going back to bed when you feel sleepy.
• Wind down and switch off TV, mobiles and other electronic equipment at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
• Make yourself a warm, milky drink.
• Make sure the temperature in your room is not too hot or cold.
• Some people find taking natural herbs supplements such as Valerian can help.
• Do a meditation or relaxation exercise before you go to bed.
• Having a ‘bedtime routine’ can help, so your mind and body are preparing for sleep, this may include having a bath or milky drink.

Self-soothing and comforting yourself

Think about ways you may make yourself feel better – think of what you might do to comfort a young child if they were sad or upset. You could make a hot chocolate, wrap yourself in a cuddly blanket or watch your favourite film. You could reach out for support or a hug from a loved one or friend. You may enjoy a bath with bubbles and candles or listening to a favourite piece of music.

Write a daily comfort diary. Actively find ways to soothe yourself when you are feeling distressed.