The Cardiff Half Marathon and the serious side of self-care
of this year’s Cardiff half marathon is Choose You, find out how you can
‘choose you’ by implementing five simple practices.
timing of this year’s encouraging theme Choose You could not be better. The
pandemic has forced us to reflect upon the importance of self-care, both as a source
of pleasure and as a preventative measure. We have learned that the small daily
actions we take to protect our health can have a positive impact upon others and
reduce demand upon our beleaguered health system.
sense, Covid has acted as a cultural accelerant. In the UK, when we reflect
upon health, we tend to think in terms of the mechanistic system that springs
into action when we are unwell – a system that delivers primary, secondary and
tertiary care. Covid has forced us to recognise the importance of another domain:
the pre-primary space.
Where is this? It is in every school, university campus, workplace and
community setting. It is in every communal space outside the health
system. The pre-primary space is where a culture of well-informed self-care practices
can take root.
How can I improve my self-care practice?
where the Cardiff Half Marathon can again be of help. As well as embracing the
concept of self-care – through the Choose You theme – it is also promoting
the Five Ways to Wellbeing. These emerged from
research undertaken by the New Economics Foundation. They are distinct
practices that help us feel good and function well – such as being physically
active, having strong social connections, taking notice, continuing to learn, and
giving. These practices, employed over time, can help people flourish.
Cardiff Half Marathon allows us to see that the Five Ways to Wellbeing are not just
a checklist of activities to be worked through one at a time. Sometimes they can
be interwoven and experienced simultaneously. When participating in the Cardiff
Half Marathon, for example, people can connect, give, learn, take notice and be
active all at the same time. They can experience a moment of fully unified
self-care practice. We too, as we go about our busy days, can become more conscious
of these practices, and weave them into our lives, without sacrificing more of
our precious time. Simply recognising that we are already practicing some of
the Five Ways to Wellbeing will increase their positive impact upon us.
important fact about Five Ways to Wellbeing is that they are free. Not one of
them costs us a penny to practice. In these times of growing health
inequalities and sharply rising living costs that is well worth remembering. And
there are no harmful side effects either! Only good can come of practicing the
Five Ways to Wellbeing.
Cardiff Half Marathon symbolises so much about self-care. The start line
signifies our willingness to commit a course of action that will improve us,
one step at a time. While the finishing line represents another important aspect
of self-care: stopping. In our relentless hustle culture, we prize doing
over being. Our lives are often comprised of one stressful activity after
another, in a seemingly endless list of things to do. But we are called human beings
for a reason. Sometimes it is imperative for our health that we stop doing and
just be – i.e., that we release the tension, the pain and the stress
from our bodies and contemplate the miraculous privilege of existing; that we
practice healthy inactivity, stillness and silence. This culturally alien
perspective has gained considerable traction during the pandemic. It is here to
stay, as a key part of the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
this year’s Cardiff Half Marathon should be viewed as more than an impressive
physical challenge – important though that is. It should also be seen as an
example of Cardiff University’s increasing commitment to creating a culture of
wellbeing, within its organisational boundaries and beyond, by expanding people’s
understanding of wellbeing and promoting the importance of self-care.
But whether you participate in the Cardiff Half Marathon or not, reflect upon the importance of its central theme – Choose You – and commit to improved self-care practice, one small step at a time.