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Self-Care

Self-Care is highly variable and strategies to encourage, support and foster it, are equally as diverse. Strategies of self-care are unique, individual and highly personal. 

They also may change throughout the lifespan in order to address life changes, stages and events. Here we will explore general, specific, and emerging topics along with research around self-care.

 

Updated periodically, come back often!

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Self-Care:
A Call-to-Action

Author: Rose D.

Self-Care is more of a discipline then a concept, however, both descriptions have grown in the last couple of years. A call to action is more of an apt description of self-care for an ever-increasing world of demands. Self-Care has become synonymous with self-identifying activities and practices that support personal well-being. These practices provide positive outcomes for health, wellness, and longevity sustained for the long-term.

Research literature around self-care promotion have largely only been studied in direct care workers, due to overwhelming concerns around rapid occupational acquired stress that can lead to situational burnout or compassion fatigue.

Other research literature around self-care promotion, have been population/occupation specific, which share similar occupational acquired stressors as direct care providers, such as, teachers, police officers, social workers, and soldiers.

 

However, a growing concern around burnt-out, among other

Patient and Nurse

occupations, unrelated to the ones listed above, is an unofficial state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. [4] These occupations are also seeing unprecedented levels of depression, job exodus, and other health-related issues.

Self-care strategies can be highly individual both personally and professionally, however, there are some commonalities. The categories of self-care are related to a person's, physical, mental, spiritual, social, and emotional well-being. Physical well-being self-care strategies can be related to adequate sleep, adequate fuel, and the amount and quality of physical activity. If indeed physical needs are being met.

While, mental well-being self-care strategies are activities that engage a person's mind like puzzles, learning new languages, reading books, and exploring subjects of interest or fascination. These are strategies that stimulate the mind, the other component, also includes, activities that require some introspection. The practice of self-acceptance and self-compassion helps to increase a better self-dialogue, which in turn increases coping skills.

Stressed Woman

The following self-care strategies are related to spirituality or religious well-being, these strategies may not be directly linked to religion, but they are part of a need to explore and develop deeper insight, sense, or connection with the universe. Which in turn, develops renewed hope & positivity, towards feelings of worth, a sense of tranquility & peace, relaxation & calmness, and increased commitment. These can be achieved through attending religious services, participation in prayer and meditation, offering of forgiveness, increasing self-acceptance, and developing meaning and purpose, by outlining clear values.

Other self-care strategies relates to the social well-being category, these strategies address the need to develop and maintain healthy and meaningful relationships, with family, friends, neighbors, romantic partners, or others. Strategies address the balance between assertiveness, social and personal time, and the ability to engage others, while maintaining a sense of self in any situation, and also valuing diversity and respect of others.

The last remaining category of self-care strategy is related to emotional well-being. Emotional well-being is concerned with our interpretations, feelings, and reactions that relate to activities of daily living, physical and mental health, and social relationships. The goal of emotional wellness is the ability to handle life stressors through adaptations to difficult situations and encourage emotional resilience. Some strategies to address emotional well-being include: giving yourself credit for good deeds, allow room to feel and acknowledge emotions, self-regulating and reacting to emotions in safe and appropriate ways, forgive yourself for your mistakes, invest in your relationships, and finding a trusted unbiased individual to talk too.

 

The practice of self-care is deeply personal. It is a self-initiated, proactive, holistic, and an individual approach, to the promotion of health and well-being. Strategies around self-care are largely focused on mitigation and coping strategies. It is important to note that, self-care is an acquired skill, meant to build resilience towards stressors that cannot be eliminated.

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References:
 

[1] (2016) Stress in America. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/
                      2015/highlights
[2] (2020 January 2) Your Healthiest Self: Wellness Toolkits. NIH. https://www.nih.gov/health-information/
                     your-healthiest-self-wellness-toolkits

[3] Koenig, Harold G. (2015). Religion, spirituality, and health: a review and update. Adv Mind Body Med,
                      29 (3):19-26.

[4] Mayo Clinic Staff (2018). Healthy Lifestyle-Adult Health: Job burnout: How to spot it and take action. Mayo
                      Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-
                       20046642#:~:text=Job%20burnout%20is%20a%20special,as%20

[5] Mills et al. (2018). Exploring the meaning and practice of selfcare among palliative care nurses and doctors:
                      a qualitative study. BMC Palliative Care, 17: 63.

[6] Pillai et al. (2011). Association of crossword puzzle participation with memory decline in persons who
                       develop dementia. Journal Int. Neuropsychology Soc., 17(6): 1006-13.

[7] Smith, Kendra L. (2017). Self-Care Practices and the Professional Self. Journal of Social Work Disability and
                       Rehabilitation, 16 (3-4): 186-203.

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