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Self-care is the action of living a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life. It is vital for a demanding and consuming role in education. Often, looking after yourself comes last on the ‘to do’ list, despite most people knowing that it is vital, especially when working in an education setting.

This unit explores self-care and its back-story: what the research suggests, how to identify what works and what doesn’t work, and how the ‘why’ links to other parts of the course. It also offers some suggestions about where you can find more information.

Rationale and context

Self-care is a straightforward and clear concept. So why do many people, particularly those in education, have difficulty with it?

It may be because of a lack of clarity about what self-care actually is, and how self-care messages are communicated. Self-care means different things to different people: it is a broad area that encompasses many different things. This breadth of meaning and scope can cause confusion and it prompts the question, what is the best way to self-care? There is no one ‘right’ way.

Most people perform some form of self-care every day to benefit physical health and mental wellbeing. Brushing teeth, eating healthily, taking exercise, not smoking, taking a break – these are good examples of self-care. And this isn’t the tricky bit for most; what’s difficult is the consistent and reliable implementation of self-care.

This unit will explain what determines self-care practice and how to use behavioural theory to your advantage. It will offer explanations about finding clarity, consistency and reliability in your approach to taking better care of yourself. It’s all about discovering what works best for you.

Looking after yourself is not just important; it is crucial to leading a full life and making a positive contribution, especially one in education, where the joys and strains of everyday life are so significant. It is vital to consider the practice of self-care for other reasons too: if self-care isn’t practised, problems with staff retention can arise, and a school known for its lack of self-care culture can struggle to recruit new members of staff.

AIms and outcomes

  • Discover the theoretical background to self-care behaviour.
  • Understand what determines your own self-care behaviour.
  • Recognise patterns of behaviour and why this is important for self-care. This unit outlines the impact of stress on brain function. As all action and thoughts originate here, understanding the brain is key to understanding and managing stress effectively.

Unit content

Unit 1: The story behind self-care