Thoughts about health … What is self-care and how can it benefit those with chronic and long-term health conditions?
Currently 15 million people in the UK live with a chronic or long-term health condition. A long-term health condition means there is no cure at this time and includes conditions such as COPD, diabetes and arthritis. Alarmingly, a 2012 study in The Lancet showed increase in the number of people living with more than one long-term condition. As we know the NHS is massively over-stretched and the cost emotionally, physically and financially to individuals, and workplaces is massive where long-term health conditions are involved. By contrast roughly 20% of GP workload is taken up with minor ailments such as indigestion, conjunctivitis and earache where short term self-care or a visit to a pharmacist for advice would suffice. Additionally, there are approximately 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK supporting loved ones that are disabled, seriously ill or elderly.
The infographic below, ‘Leading Causes of Death in Perspective’ really hammers home the relevance of the need for change regarding long-term conditions both those that are largely physical and also those which are more related to mental health. It is sad and perhaps interesting to note that death by natural causes doesn’t even appear within the list.
When health seems to be failing and conventional / allopathic treatments do not fully remove symptoms it often seems there comes a point where the medics can offer no more, or if they can it’s to suppress symptoms rather than cure and side-effects can then also become problematic. It is by this point essential for self-care to be the order of the day…every day. Self-care can be empowering and can take us from victim mode and elevate us potentially to experiences and situations that can be highly positive. We may not have wanted the condition or symptoms but the new different way of life certainly doesn’t have to be bad or inferior compared to life before the disease process began.
So, you have a long-term condition and one or countless visit/s to the GP and a prescription didn’t resolve the health issue. You may even have been told you have to live with it. However, the good news is you still have choices… many of them… when you own the condition and become a partner with your health-care professionals and ultimately self-care.
The purpose of this blog is to share ideas. It is my hope that if you are currently managing tricky symptoms that there is a little gem or nugget of information, some pearl of wisdom here that serves you in some way, an action you can take to bring about positive change. The ideas are not new or radical but tried and tested, put simply they work so can work for you too!
10 Self-Care Ideas For Any Condition
1. Get the ESSENTIAL non-negotiable basics right as much as possible: sleep, relaxation, diet, exercise, fresh air, breathing
Benefits: ability to cope, feeling of wellbeing, improved quality of life
2. Acceptance mind-set. If you are stressed about your health that is another obstacle blocking you. What are your health beliefs? Do they serve you or create fear?
Benefits: control over condition
3. Research … who has your condition and is doing well? What wisdom can you take away from their story?
Benefits: inspiration and hope
4. Raising your vibration with gratitude is always a winner. Notice how it’s impossible to hold a positive and negative thought in your mind simultaneously.
Benefits: reduces cortisol, improves immunity, makes us feel great and increases longevity
5. Take action to release stress, drama and other triggers from your life. This can be through real life solutions such as removing yourself from emotionally toxic environments and people or with support from a specialist therapist or Lifestyle Prescriptions® Health Coach who knows your condition well.
Benefits: Improved communication and self-image and reduction in negative feelings and emotions
6. Look at the wider picture. Relief can occur on multiple levels: mind-body-spirit-social-environmental. Where are there gaping gaps? Set small, realistic targets and wellbeing orientated goals. If one new step is actively implemented each week imagine what you could achieve over a year. That’s 52 Lifestyle Prescriptions® giving yourself permission to live life the way you choose!
Benefits: Less reliance on healthcare professionals, greater vitality and zest for life
7. Embrace social support and also know when to reach out and do so. Isolation is one of the worst things for us, as humans we were designed to be social. Those around us are not mind readers and often want to help but are unsure how to do so.
Benefits: Better relationships and ease with challenging situations
8. Say “NO!” as necessary to pace yourself. If other people are looking after themselves and you’re looking after them too, then who is looking after you?
Benefits: Being in own power and prioritising own wellbeing needs
9. More love. More laughter! Cliché I know but love really is the greatest healer and laughter the best medicine.
Benefits: faster healing, less depression and low mood, natural pain control, fewer colds, lower blood pressure, better stress management, connects you to others, keeps you grounded, burns calories, free of charge
10. Have something to look forward to for you. Create a bucket list and have fun with it. You can always plan another list once everything on the first one has been achieved.
Benefits: Connects you to your values, motivates and inspires, makes life meaningful and worthwhile, allows sense of accomplishment, get more out of life, realise your dreams
A Lifestyle Prescriptions® Health Coach can assist in the fast-tracking to wellness. Time is precious, book today to learn the root-cause of your symptoms, benefit from Lifestyle Medicine based solutions and thrive again.
Jo Trewartha www.freeyourmindsolutions.com
Jo is a Lifestyle Prescriptions® Health Coach and Trainer and Stanford University accredited Expert Patient Program Tutor. She is passionate about wellbeing and believes that everyone can do something to feel better.