5.8 Patient self-care

1. Self-care

1.1 Definition

Self-care may be defined by the term itself – caring for yourself.
Self-care includes anything you do to keep yourself healthy – physically, mentally and spiritually.
Although prioritizing self-care may sound like common sense, especially if you’re considering longevity, it’s often the first thing to go when we find ourselves in challenging situations, whether because of bad health, a financial crisis, job loss, divorce or, in our current situation, the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is why it is important to keep it top of mind and not an after-thought, especially when we find ourselves in challenging times.
Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, improve energy, and more.
From a physical health perspective, self-care has been clinically proven to reduce heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Spiritually, it may help keep us in tune with our higher power as well as realize our meaning in life.
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1.2 Importance

Self-care is something that many people struggle to prioritise.
There is a misconception that self-care is selfish, but this could not be further from the truth.
Self-care is a crucial part of looking after yourself, as well as others.
When you practice self-care you produce positive feelings, which boosts motivation and self-esteem leaving you with increased energy to support yourself as well as your loved ones. Self-care starts with tending to your own needs.


2. Dimensions of wellness

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2.1 Emotional

Talk to someone, reflect, journal, read, do something artistic, listen to music, work out, take a walk, watch something that suits the mood (or does the opposite and changes it), cry it out, hug someone, cuddle, laugh, take a nap.

2.2 Environmental

Take a walk somewhere nice, breathe in fresh air, enjoy the sun, enjoy the night sky, avoid littering, pick up litter, reduce waste, use reusable products, recycle, clean your house, redesign a room.

2.3 Financial

Develop a practical financial plan, open a savings account, start saving (even if $1 per day), try saving even more if you are already saving, invest, cut back on unnecessary purchases, consider where you can cut corners, avoid credit cards, ask for a raise.

2.4 Intellectual

Did you know that humans have about 6200 thoughts in a single day? Don’t you think our self-talk will affect how we think and feel about ourselves? It’s also important to stimulate your mind with mental activities. Here are some mental activities to try:
-Practice self-compassion and acceptance
-Choose positive thoughts more often
-Choose kindness
-Do a puzzle
-Learn something new
-Read, listen to audiobooks
-Watch documentaries
-Be mindful of the world around you
-Tap into your creative/artistic side,take a class
-Complete a program, graduate.

2.5 Occupational

Learn a trade, get your degree, train for a promotion, accept the promotion, put together your resume, polish your resume, apply for your dream job, take on a task you enjoy, open your own business.

2.6 Physical

The mind and body connection is a real phenomenon. When you are caring for your body, you’ll think and feel better too. Physical self-care includes how you're fueling your body, how much sleep you're getting, how much physical activity you are doing, and how well you're caring for your physical needs. Attending appointments, taking medication as prescribed, and managing your health are all part of good physical self-care. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to assess your physical health:
Am I getting adequate sleep?
Is my diet fueling my body well?
Am I taking charge of my health?
Am I getting enough exercise?
Work out daily, take a walk, eat healthy, get your annual checkup, see the dentist, take medications as prescribed, avoid drugs and alcohol, get 7-9 hours of sleep, see the physician when you do not feel well.

2.7 Social

We are not meant to live in total isolation - we all need social connectivity to thrive in life. Although it can be hard to make time for family and friends with our busy schedules, close connections are important for our well-being. Here are some fun ideas to try. If these activities below don’t resonate with you, try something that would.
-Watch a fun movie with friends
-Call a parent
-Have dinner with your special someone
-Family game night
-Volunteer for a cause that is important to you

2.8 Spiritual

Nurturing your spirit doesn’t have to involve religion, though for some it does. It can involve anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding or connection with the universe. Here are a few examples.
-Meditation
-Yoga
-Going to a place of worship
-Being in nature
-Self-reflection
-Pray


3. Tips to improve your self-care

Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.
Here are some tips to help you get started with self-care:

3.1 Get regular exercise and Eat healthily

Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. If you then add this up with a balanced diet and plenty of water your energy and focus throughout the day will improve. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.

3.2 Make sleep a priority and Try a relaxing activity

Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities.

3.3 Set goals and priorities and Stay connected

Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do and don't close yourself up from the people you know and love. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help

3.4 Practice gratitude and Focus on positivity

Remind yourself daily of the things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.


4. Questions

Here are some questions that are going to explain even more the importance of being aware of self-care and its true meaning.

4.1 What is self-care?

As we already know self-care is the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote their own health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.
It recognizes individuals as active agents in managing their own health care in areas including health promotion; disease prevention and control; self-medication; providing care to dependent persons; and rehabilitation, including palliative care. It does not replace the healthcare system but instead provides additional choices and options for healthcare.
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4.2 What are self-care health interventions and who uses them?

Self-care interventions are tools that support self-care. Self-care interventions include evidence-based, quality drugs, devices, diagnostics, and/or digital products which can be provided fully or partially outside of formal health services and can be used with or without health workers.
The users of self-care interventions are individuals who might choose these interventions for positive reasons, which may include convenience, cost, empowerment, a better fit with values or daily lifestyles, or the intervention may provide the desired options and choice. However, they might also opt for self-care interventions to avoid the health system due, for example, to a lack of quality health service or lack of access to health facilities. Self-care interventions fulfill a particularly important role in these situations, as the alternative might be that people don’t access health services at all.

4.3 Are self-care interventions safe?

Some recommendations on self-care interventions issued are based on the best available evidence to date, including evidence of their safety and effectiveness when provided with support by the formal health system if needed. Incorrect or unclear health information or lack of access to health workers and/or health facilities should this be needed, are potential challenges that need to be addressed when using these interventions.

4.4 Why are they important during health emergencies?

Even when there are major disruptions to the normal functioning of national health systems caused by health emergencies, evidence-based, high-quality self-care interventions can provide an important alternative if the usual health facility- or health worker-based services become unavailable or restricted. Examples include ensuring that health commodities are available through pharmacies and drug stores, whether mobile or fixed, in order to improve coverage.


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5. Digital apps

More than 90,000 new digital health applications were added to app stores in 2020—that’s an average of more than 250 new apps every day.
Digital health apps range from providing a platform for services, such as virtual doctor appointments and chronic-disease management to consumer health apps that help people manage their own health by tracking daily steps and accessing exercise and nutrition programs. The COVID-19 pandemic helped to accelerate the adoption of digital health apps. However, there are ethical and regulatory issues that should be considered. Globally, more than 350,000 health apps are available from the various app stores. However, downloads and the corresponding use of apps are heavily skewed, with just 110 health-related apps downloaded more than 10 million times, accounting for almost half of all downloads.
Apps that fail to follow guidelines, don’t function as intended, are out-of-date, or are economically unviable due to the ongoing costs of continually updating to new operating systems, are typically removed from the app stores.3

5.1 What does the future hold for health apps?

Digital health apps are helping clinicians to work smarter. They are also empowering patients with easier access to advice and support while improving their understanding and management of their condition. In the future, clinicians and patients will likely be empowered by digital diagnostic and treatment paradigms.
Health apps will play an important role in empowering patients to manage their health through digitally-enabled care pathways, broaden access to healthcare services, and increase participation and awareness of the wider population’s health and well-being. Evidence-based health apps will likely be integrated into established clinical treatment pathways, with the aim of both improving outcomes of current treatments and increasing access to specialized, and, where relevant, personalized, therapies.
Health apps also have the potential to improve the sustainability of health care. They can help reduce patient and clinician travel, and allow for remote monitoring, treatment, and surgery, and remote medication management. However, to achieve this ambition, citizens need to trust that the health apps are collecting and analyzing data safely and effectively and in accordance with robust data standards and regulatory scrutiny; and, importantly, that clinicians are acting on the results.


6. Bibliography

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