What Do You Mean, ‘Self-Care’?
Self-care is a concept you often encounter, especially if you live with a chronic illness. But what does it really mean? What am I expected to do? And what kind of support is available to carry out my self-care?
Self-care is a concept that appears in a number of situations, but it is not always clear what it entails. It can apply to anything from managing a cold to taking a walk, or injecting medication on your own after receiving guidance from a clinic. In short, self-care is about what you do for your health, without direct involvement from a healthcare professional.
When healthcare talks about self-care
When the concept of self-care is used within healthcare there are laws and regulations that lay the foundation for both what it entails and how it should be conducted. Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare states that “self-care is when a patient performs health and medical interventions at home, either independently or with the support of a close relative or of assistive personnel.”
If you have a rheumatic diagnosis, some form of self-care is most probably a part of your treatment plan. Research shows that lifestyle influences how you respond to your treatment and how the disease develops, and therefore you may have been challenged to change your lifestyle in some manner.
The strength in taking control of your health
So self-care is also a concept with a broader meaning that can encompass a variety of different actions you take for your health and your wellbeing. You might have decided to take a certain number of steps every day, to eat more healthily, or set time aside for recovery.
And of course, you do not need a clinical diagnosis to dedicate yourself to self-care! The purpose can be both prevention and treatment, or as simple as you want it to be, so long as you feel great in body and soul. Just the notion that you, and you alone, can influence your health can be of great significance. And it does not always need to be about major things, it could just be an activity that you simply enjoy doing.
If you at any point have experienced the feeling of coming home after a morning walk, enjoying a cup of coffee, and feeling accomplished, satisfied, and ready to face the day—take hold of that feeling and use it as an inspiration.
Find gaps and schedule!
We all know that, despite good intentions, it can be difficult to prioritize yourself. It is easy for something to get in the way, and if the opportunity is lost, you may also feel the inspiration slip through your fingers. Therefore you should schedule your self-care—whether it is garden work, recovery, or swimming. When you have planned time for yourself, do not have second thoughts about it!
If you still experience that it is difficult to commit to your schedule, reconsider and rethink your schedule instead of giving up time for yourself. It may not be possible to catch a moment for yourself at night because your children are struggling to fall asleep. But perhaps you can find time for yourself early in the morning instead?
Or does your employer let you have a walk and talk instead of a regular meeting so you can get your steps in? Research actually shows that we are more creative when we move than when we are sedentary, and therefore a meeting on the go can be just as productive.
Make use of technology
The opportunities for self-care have changed with technology’s development. Today there is an abundance of apps, fitness trackers, etc., that can aid you in everything from meditation to measuring intervals.
Dive into what is available and what you feel like trying out. And do not forget the Elsa app, where you can set up exercise goals and log how you are feeling.
More in the Elsa app!
Are you interested in getting more knowledge, inspiration and tips from research, healthcare professionals and people living with rheumatic disease? If you have not already downloaded the Elsa app, you can do it here: (App Store) or (Google Play)