Self–Care Awareness Month in September is a time to remind us how important it is to take care of ourselves. Self-care is often neglected in our everyday lives, with many of us placing careers and the needs of others before our own. When practiced regularly, self-care creates significant personal, social, and economic benefits. Fortunately, health and medical innovations means that more and more people are able to take control of their health by both treating and preventing conditions and diseases.
Self-care is defined as the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider1 . Other researchers define self-care as encompassing everything done to stay healthy.
On average, individuals spend less than 1 hour a year with a health worker versus over 8 700 hours a year practicing self-care. Self-care interventions promote an individual’s active participation in their own healthcare - a push towards greater self-determination, self-efficacy, autonomy, and engagement in health.
In South Africa, the need for self-care is becoming increasingly apparent. In 2019, 84% of South Africans were dependant on public health systems to fulfil their healthcare needs, yet patients seeking care frequently were not able to receive it due to service-delivery shortfalls and this challenge is ongoing2 . Self-care interventions can unburden primary healthcare clinics and provide convenient ways for patients to manage their own health.
For over 150 years, Bayer has used innovation to enable progress in self-care and help people to live fuller lives. From the revolutionary development of over-the-counter medications, for example pain management and immune system boosters, the life-changing power of allergy treatments that help people enjoy the outdoors, and to the scientific breakthroughs transforming women’s health and cardiovascular healthcare. Through continuous innovations, Bayer is working to make personal health more effective, more sustainable, more accessible, and more personal.
There are many ways to practice self-care, ranging from being intentional about staying healthy, getting regular checks done at a nearby hospital or clinic or healthcare facility of choice, fuelling the body with the necessary over-the-counter approved treatments, engaging in regular physical activities, spending time with loved ones, taking time off to rest and recharge.
Self-care recognises individuals as active agents in managing their own health. It does not replace the healthcare system, but instead provides additional choices and options in health promotion, disease prevention and control, forming better eating habits, practicing healthy mental habits, and exercising habits.
While ageing comes with many issues impacting the overall health of a person. Eyesight can also deteriorate with age and it’s important to take time off and recognise the value of vision care. The annual visit to the optometrist is considered an important part of self-care and helps to check the level of vision and undergo assessments which may pick-up signs of conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) early.
The availability of over-the-counter medication is another great invention which promotes self-care. Through over-the-counter medication, minor health problems are treated – from sensitive and dry skin, compromised immune system, fatigue and even heartburn symptoms and this contributes to self-confidence. With easily accessible ‘on-the-go’ medication - there are more and more opportunities of spending time with family and friends which in return improves mental health 3 .
Engaging in regular physical activities is great for self-care as it keeps the body energised and even better great for the heart. Being physically active is one of the most effective tools for strengthening the heart muscles, keeping the weight under control, and warding off the artery damage from high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure that can lead to heart attack or stroke 4 .
Lastly, getting enough rest and sleep works wonders and research proves that those who get adequate sleep tend to have improved health, an easier time making decisions, better emotional well-being, boosted moods, lower risk of diseases, better immune function, and increased performance compared to those with sleep deficiencies.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice.
- 2 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frph.2022.1073246/full