International Self-Care Day
What is International Self-Care Day?
Since 2011, July 24th has been recognized as International Self-Care Day. This annual event brings forward the opportunity to put a spotlight on the benefits of self-care and the benefits self-care can bring to individuals and healthcare systems.
7 Pillars to Self-Care
Knowledge & Health Literacy
Developing knowledge & literacy to make informed decisions is probably the most important pillar of self-care. This pillar provides the foundation for the other 6 pillars. Everyone has a better chance of living a longer happier life by making better life choices. Those choices come from having the knowledge to navigate health-care systems and play an active role in their overall health and wellness.
Start by asking questions: Everyone deserves to understand the care they are receiving from doctors, nurses, family caregivers, professional caregivers or any other care or service they receive. From medications & treatments to services & products we should have an understanding of the realistic benefits & possible side effects (physically or financially). It is equally important to understand the negative effects of not accepting medications, treatments and services
Sources: We can all be inundated with information. From websites & social media to dishonest businesses & uninformed friends/ family, it is easy to hear and see incorrect information. Much of the incorrect information we receive can be unintentional, where others can be intentional. A good place to start is with professionals like your family doctor, nurses, specialists, professional caregivers and health authorities.
The internet can be a great resource for information however we need to be aware of the source of the information we are reading. Improve your chances of getting the correct information by sticking with information from local, provincial and federal health authorities. Keep in mind treatments and medications should be only taken with a consultation of a healthcare professional.
Mental Health & Well Being
The appropriate second pillar is mental health & well being. This stands true with everyone but is extremely important for older adults aged 60 or above. Elder adults make important contributions to society as family members, volunteers and as active participants in the workforce. While most have good mental health, many older adults are at risk of developing mental disorders, neurological disorders or substance use.
Mental health and well being of caregivers and other adults often get ignored due to the daily grind.
Mental health and well being can be easier to achieve with regular exercise, eating healthy, having someone to talk to and taking a little respite.
From seniors and caregivers to young adults and children regular physical activity helps with brain health, weight management, reducing disease, strengthening your body and improving your ability to do everyday activities.
From not enough time to ability, there are plenty of excuses for why we do not get enough physical activity. In reality, physical activity is an investment that has been proven to help with people living a longer, happier and healthier life. From wheelchair exercises or a casual stroll along the beach to climbing a mountain or jogging, we all can take some time to make such an investment.
Food fuels your body and mind to work, live and play. Healthy eating can improve your mood, increase energy, controls weight, reduce the risk of disease and give your body vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It is never too late to start eating healthy.
Good hygiene such as bathing regularly, trimming nails, brushing and flossing your teeth, washing your hands, wearing clean clothes and maintaining a clean house will help minimize the risk of infection and enhance your overall health. Good hygiene can also do wonders for your social life, mental health and well being.
In terms of personal health, risk avoidance refers to the avoidance or reduction of behaviours that directly increase the risk of disease or death. While we cannot eliminate all risks, we can reduce the number of risks.
Here are just a few things to consider:
Limiting or avoiding alcohol
Avoid foods that negatively affect you
Taking your medications as prescribed by your physician
Following public health suggestions and requirements
Understand and live within your limits financially and physically
See a doctor on a regular basis
Avoid risky behaviour
Use the 7 pillars of self-care
Rational Use of Products & Services
The correct use of health products and services is an important element of self-care. As the old saying goes "too much of a good thing is a bad thing". The first step to rational use is understanding if you need it and if so, knowing what rational use is for that product or service.
Physical Activity is great for your health but know your limits.
Preventative/Non-prescription medicines such as sleep aids may help you but speak to your doctor about other ways to manage your condition over self-medicating.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can be beneficial in moderation and with the guidance of your physician. Be aware of brands promising you the world.
Substance control products such as tobacco replacements may help you stop smoking, but switching one dependence for another is not healthy in the long term. Best to have a plan and do your best to eliminate the need for nicotine.
Reading, understanding and following instructions on labels instructions of any products that you have is very important.
Remember to always consult with your healthcare team to ensure you are doing all you can to self-care. From caregivers and elder adults to children and young adults, we all need self-care.
From Sidney to Victoria BC, Pacific Coast Health Services provides home healthcare for seniors and persons with disabilities. From respite care & 24-hour care to dementia care & advanced foot care, our care line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - 365 days a year. To book your free in-home healthcare assessment.
This post was a collaborative effort with our friends at Lions Gate Home Care