What is self care and why is it so important?
In the last few years, self-care definitions have changed. The definition of self-care has changed over time, even from the World Health Organization (WHO). The most recent definition of self-care by WHO is "the ability of individuals and families to promote health and prevent disease, manage illness, and deal with disability without the assistance of a healthcare provider."
We may be unsure how to incorporate self-care into our everyday lives, as the definition is so broad. To help you understand the many ways of practicing self-care, the International Self-Care Foundation has created seven pillars. These seven pillars are:
- Health literacy is the ability to access health information and to understand how it works so that you can make informed health decisions.
- Mental well-being is about taking care of yourself. A health screening test is one example. It checks for any diseases or conditions that may affect your body, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Physical activity is defined as moving your body through activities such as walking, biking or hiking.
- Healthy eating is about eating foods that provide the highest nutritional value to your body in order for it to function properly.
- Avoiding or mitigating risk - avoid taking actions that could negatively affect your body or mental health, such as smoking or abusing drugs or alcohol.
- Good hygiene includes washing your hair, your hands, and brushing your teeth.
- Responsible and rational use of medicines, diagnostics and products - Knowing when too much or too little of a medicine can cause harm to your body is key. Avoid side effects or overdoses.
The seven pillars are a great starting point for evaluating your self-care habits and finding ways to improve them. These are routines that we all do every day, like brushing our teeth. These routines are so ingrained in our daily lives since childhood that we don’t realize they are a form self-care until we become more aware. Another example is taking a daily shower, eating fruits and veggies (or avoiding fast food).
There is always room to improve and there are environmental factors that we can add to our self care routines. It is important to adjust our self-care routines according to the seasons. You may find that what works in winter may not work in spring and summer. We have prepared self-care tips to help you get through summer. They take into consideration each of the seven pillars.