Self Care Week - Simple Steps for Looking After Yourself

Monday, 28 November 2016

Self Care Week 2016 is run by the Self Care Forum and involves a series of events aimed at educating people on how to look after their health. People are also encouraged to choose a lifestyle that will positively improve their wellbeing, both physically and mentally.

Health literacy

Under the banner ‘Understanding Self Care for Life’, Self Care Week’s theme1 for 2016 is health literacy. It will try to address the Royal College of General Practitioners’ findings that 60% of adults of a working age in England say that they struggle to understand health-related information2. Students are also encouraged to become more health literate, with experts from Bristol University recently releasing an app called ESC Student which acts as a self-serve health guide that can be accessed on a mobile phone.

Living longer but in poorer health

All-encompassing self-care is especially important and beneficial for men and women over the age of 50. This is because people are living longer and health services are therefore being placed under increased demands, especially in the winter months.

At the Self Care Conference 2016 in London it was revealed that 20% of boys and 33% of Self Care Weekgirls currently aged five will live to see their 100 birthdays2. While this seems like positive news, the reality is that our later years now tend to be spent in poorer health. For example, diabetes-related illness and disability has risen by around 75%, smoking and unhealthy eating habits each contribute 10% towards the aging nation’s poorer health, and physical inactivity levels have reached 61.1% for women and 71.6% for men. Such factors have left the NHS using £30bn it could otherwise have saved by 2023. Self Care Week empowers family members of all generations, along with communities, to care for each other.

Self-care tips

Key messages3 that will be communicated by wide-ranging organisations and voices during Self Care Week include ways to help reduce the strain on GPs and emergency departments:

  • Seeking the advice of a local pharmacist on the high street or in a supermarket rather than seeing your doctor or even attending A&E for a cough or cold.

  • Pharmacists will also usually be able to offer advice on managing medicines, which for mature men and women can amount to several different types of tablets per day.

  • A wealth of self-care health information can also be accessed on the NHS Choices website.

Improve your wellbeing

Regular activity, even if it’s just for half an hour per day, is recommended for people of all ages as it can significantly improve physical health and mental wellbeing in the longer term.

Many jobs are stressful and demanding these days but anyone who works is advised to make sure they take a lunch break each day rather than work through it.

To maintain the safety of themselves and those around them, people who drive to or during work or who operate machinery are urged to read the leaflet provided with any medication they take. This helps to ensure any side effects such as drowsiness won’t potentially pose any risks.

Overreliance on antibiotics is discouraged as it can reduce their effectiveness. Eating healthily, getting plenty of rest and generally being sensible can help people recover from common colds naturally.

Stay safe at home and out and about

For those who are older, a large range of assisted living gadgets and other technology is available4 to help them enjoy living in the comfort of their own home for longer. Simple aids such as liquid level indicators for cups and mugs, talking food thermometers and long-handled dustpans and brushes can go a long way in keeping older or less mobile people safer at home. Out and about, walking sticks, scooters and personal locators can help people stay active.

In the winter

At this time of year it’s advisable for people of all ages to wrap up warm in cold weather, wear a hat or a coat with a hood if it’s windy, and avoid getting wet hair and feet if it’s raining. Staying warm and dry can reduce the risk of catching a cold or perhaps something more serious. Once dark mornings and evenings set in, taking care while walking is also important to avoid falling or injury.

Age UK highlights the importance of keeping your home warm during the winter as cold temperatures can raise blood pressure. It takes older people longer for their blood pressure to return to normal levels after having been out in the cold5.

Get control of your health

With additional physical activity sessions typically put on by various councils, self-care videos in GPs’ surgeries, health coaching, and other initiatives aimed at improving community health, Self Care Week 2016 is an excellent time to set the goal of looking after oneself better.

 

Sources – referenced in the blog post:

1. http://www.selfcareforum.org/events/self-care-week-resources

2. http://dev.selfcareforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/PAGBConferenceReport2016Web.pdf

3. http://dev.selfcareforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/comms_info_2016.pdf

4. http://www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk/

5. http://www.ageuk.org.uk/health-wellbeing/keeping-your-body-healthy/winter-wrapped-up/keeping-warm/

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