Why it's important
It's easy for your children and work colleagues to take up your every waking minute. But unless you look after yourself, you can exhaust all your reserves of energy and enthusiasm. Make time for the people and activities that help you feel positive, energetic and self-confident.
If these ring a bell, it's time to take more care of yourself:
• Are your meals often the children's leftovers?
• Is your main social event the parents' evening at school?
• Is running around after the children the only decent exercise you get?
Make time for yourself
It can be difficult, but make time for yourself and relax. Don't see this as a special treat but as something you deserve on a regular basis.
So whether it's a walk on your own, a meal out or a get together with a good friend, find a couple of hours for it.
Juggling work and home
Balancing your job with your home life can be tough and there's nothing worse than worrying about your childcare arrangements while you're at work. To find out more about childcare options see our childcare section.
You could also:
• Find out about family-friendly practices in your workplace. Up to 60 per cent of employers say they let their staff vary their hours and nearly half offer stress counselling.
• Take a few minutes at the end of the day to share the ups and downs of your day with your partner or a friend - but don't spend the whole evening thinking about work.
• Make the most of time off. Do something together as a family at the weekends.
Look after yourself
Although some mental illnesses may be genetically predetermined, or otherwise unavoidable, there are ways to keep the blues at bay and make sure your mind and body stay healthy and happy.
Eat well and keep fit
Regular, healthy meals and moderate exercise can make a significant difference to your moods. You'll feel more energetic and able to look after yourself. There's also the added benefit of looking fit and toned, which is a confidence booster.
Do something you love
Write a list of all the things in life that you enjoy, no matter how trivial they might seem at first. Now plan to do at least one small thing every day, and have bigger things to look forward to as well. A hobby or interest that totally absorbs your interest is great, even if it's just for an hour a week, but don't take it to extremes and let it take over the whole of your life.
Make lots of friends
Even shy people can have an active social life. Get out and meet some new people, and remember - they don't have to be identical to you to be good friends. Avoid people who drag you down all the time and never give anything in return for your support. Seek out the company of others who make you laugh, or feel inspired.
Learn how to handle stress
Don't be afraid of challenges, overcoming them will help to increase your self- confidence. Stress management is not all about being passive, or lying down in a darkened room with a wet flannel on your forehead! Learn some active techniques to help you relax, rather than slobbing out in front of the telly, or getting drunk.
Big yourself up
If you're in the habit of putting yourself down a lot, try making a list of all your good qualities. Get a friend to help you. You'll be surprised at how long that list turns out to be. Remind yourself of the list from time to time.
Stay out of the downward spiral
Be honest about your feelings, but don't go on and on about feeling bad all the time to anyone who'll listen, it will make you feel worse. Avoid sitting around and doing nothing for days on end, especially if you're feeling a bit down, keep busy or do something deliberate to relax yourself.
Keep your brain active Take an interest in what's going on in the world, or at least one area of it. Be enthusiastic about life and never stop learning.
Don't worry, be silly
Learn how to ignore the unimportant things that may niggle you, and break large unpleasant tasks down into smaller, manageable chunks. Keep a sense of humour at all times, and try to see the funny side of most situations.