Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

15.54 21 Feb 2021


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Self-care is the most important place to start when it comes to wellbeing, according to Professor Jim Lucey.

The clinical professor of psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and consultant psychiatrist at St Patrick’s University Hospital has recently published his book A Whole New Plan for Living.

The idea for the book came from Professor Lucey's father, who when he was dying in 2010, asked his son to give him "a whole new plan for living".

The book offers ten steps on how we can improve our overall health and wellbeing by maintaining balance and wellness in our daily lives.

Speaking to Alive and Kicking with Clare McKenna, Professor Lucey said people should adopt a simple approach to wellbeing.

"Keep it simple is a good start, you have to start with the achievable and the practical and the simple," he said.

"That's actually not the condescending or foolish, that's wise.

Professor Jim Lucey offers insight on a whole new plan for living

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"After all it is a big idea that, after COVID, after all this is settled, this enormous event, which I believe is the beginning of the 21st century, where will we be?

"Will we attempt to go back to where we were or will we perhaps aim for something entirely new?

"I believe it has to start with a very simple idea which is encapsulated in two words and that's self-care."

Self-care

Professor Lucey defines self-care as "making the love of yourself something we do without shame or guilt, without doubt of its purpose or value".

"It's absolutely essential that we start recognising that love," he said.

"We are bound to make progress only if we start recognising our own value, the value of our lives.

He hopes that under a new plan, "we see the whole of health", meaning physical wellbeing but also mind and spirit.

"The whole of health isn't divisive into physical or mental health," he added.

Professor Lucey said his new book aims to include people who would not think about seeking help for their mental health or "never dream about seeing a psychiatrist".

"I think that group of people is unaddressed," he said.

"The commonality I was addressing was [a group] with no knowledge, and who may be stigmatically frightened of addressing their health, what can I say, what can I offer those persons."

He chose to leave the scientific data and papers behind and translate his interest in authenticity into something accessible for people.

"Every line" of the book is rooted in science, he said, and he hopes people find the book simple to understand but also reliable and truthful.

Mental health

Professor Lucey added that people living with a mental illness can "absolutely" recover.

"What we need is an open mind and a hopeful heart and then an engagement with that recovery that sustains people through the journey.

"The journey can be long, there's no question about that.

"But because mental health as we keep calling it is so inclusive in the whole of health, that journey might actually involve ameliorating diet and exercise, it might involve a better relationship, it might involve rethinking our job, it might involve getting our kidneys checked out.

"Once you have that kind of whole plan understanding of it, of course, I believe recovery is possible because recovery is the job of life."

Main image: The sun rises over Dublin Bay at Sandymount strand. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

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