Reconnecting - to care for others you need to care for yourself

At the start of November, on the third attempt, we held our first in-person conference in over three years: some delegates had booked places in 2019 and others, only the week before. The title and theme of the conference was 'Reconnecting' and it proved to be a popular one. Delegates heard from the Minister for Children and Young People, Clare Haughey MSP, Care Inspectorate, Scottish Social Services Council and Inspiring Scotland. Not only were participants able to (re)connect with the regulators and policy makers, they were able to meet old friends and make new ones. Although people have valued all the online interaction, nothing could replace the in-person connection; you could feel the joy in the room.

COVID put so many things on hold and changed the ways we work and live, and although we seem to be out the other side, the impact lingers. In our last workforce survey we found that much of the workforce were experiencing great mental and physical strain, especially Lead Practitioners, and although we are no longer facing COVID restrictions, for many the stresses remain as there has been little time to recover. It's almost as though we are being expected to ‘resume normal service' without having had the time to step back and breathe.

We know that stress affects our behaviours, thoughts, emotions, bodily functions and if left unchecked, ‘toxic stress' can cause serious physical medical conditions, as well as mental ones- our mind and body are totally interconnected, and to beat stress we need to look after both. We need to make reconnecting with ourselves a priority- to care for others we need to be able to care for ourselves.

Feeling connected is one of the most important ways of combatting stress- it helps us to feel safe in the world. Trusted relationships with other people of course, are important but so too is being connected with our own bodies and environment- we need to feel in control of who we are. Breathing exercises, yoga, exercise, a growth mindset, being in nature… all of these things and more can help. The important thing is to actually recognise we need to make time every day to focus on our own needs- it could be ten minutes it could be an hour, however long, we need to make sure we take time to connect with ourselves and make ‘self-care' a priority. It is not selfish or a luxury, it is a daily necessity.

As Bessel Van Der Kolk says in his seminal book, 'The Body Keeps the Score', “angry people live in angry bodies”. Let's create happy bodies and minds, and spread that happiness across all areas of our lives.

last updated: 18/11/2022