Self Care

According to the International Self-Care Foundation, Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.

There are 7 pillars of self care which describe the fundamental aspects of this practice.

  1. Health literacy – includes: the capacity of individuals to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. This could also be described as psychoeducation, becoming knowledgeable about the processes involved in mental health and some basic principles described in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The idea here is that information is the primary tool to claim better care and higher quality of life
  1. Mental Wellbeing – includes: knowing your body mass index (BMI), cholesterol level, blood pressure; engaging in health screening. Mental wellbeing means more than simply understanding one’s vital signs, also understanding how to control them and promote greater sense of comfort and peace, using gentle discipline and rewards for positive reinforcement.
  2. Physical activity – practicing moderate intensity physical activity such as walking, cycling, or participating in sports at a desirable frequency. Exercise is a key factor in self care; the body must be active for the mind to be happy.
  3. Healthy eating – includes: having a nutritious, balanced diet with appropriate levels of calorie intake.There have been documented links between food and mood, more importantly, the milieu within which hormones, neurotransmitters and immune system operate is based on the quality of the caloric intake of the individual.
  4. Risk avoidance or mitigation – includes: quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated, practicing safe sex, using sunscreens. Many behaviors which can be self destructive are mal-adaptive, meaning they are coping mechanisms created by the individual to process adjustment and adapt to change. When these behaviors are healthy, there is no problem but sometimes these behaviors can be destructive and are considered maladaptions.
  5. Good hygiene – includes: washing hands regularly, brushing teeth, washing food.This aspect of self care has been highlighted recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in 2020 the CDC recommended handwashing for 20 seconds several times per day to avoid the spread of disease. Self care includes good hygiene and proper care for the body.
  6. Rational and responsible use of products, services, diagnostics and medicines – includes: being aware of dangers, using responsibly when necessary. Responsible use of medications, supplements and vitamins can make an individual feel not only healthy but also increase wellness.
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