The theme for the week is ‘Self Care for Life’ and aims to help people understand what they can do to better look after their own health and that of their family, as well as living as healthily as possible.
Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s National Medical Director for Long Term Conditions, said: “Self Care for Life is a vital campaign that looks at health across the spectrum, from coughs, colds and flu to self care for long term conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and lung conditions.
“By supporting people to help themselves, we can not only improve quality of life for individuals but also use NHS services even more effectively, particularly with winter approaching when we all know our A&E services and GPs face huge demands”.
“Self Care for Life helps raise awareness with people about how they can safely treat minor ailments such as colds or fever, as well as how they can also live healthily and prevent avoidable but more serious problems with long terms conditions such as Type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
“Helping people to help themselves is a two-way partnership between individuals and the NHS to provide information, tools, support and care to allow people to stay well and use health services appropriately.”
The national awareness campaign is run by the Self Care Forum. The aim for the week is for people-facing organisations such as GP surgeries, CCGs, pharmacies, dentists, local authorities and the voluntary and community sector, to use it as a focus to increase people’s ability to self care and improve their levels of health literacy.
As winter approaches, the message from Self Care Week includes reminding people to ensure their medicine cabinet is well stocked and how they can get help and advice on symptoms from their pharmacist.
There is also information about how people can take steps to prevent avoidable conditions such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and lung conditions such as COPD.
Self Care for Life also advises on long term conditions, prompting patients to use their medications appropriately and staying as healthy as they can. They are also advised to seek further support from their GP or nurse on how to manage their condition, or to join a local support group.
The Self Care Forum has been running its annual awareness campaign since 2011, with the ethos being to further the reach of self care and have it embedded into everybody’s everyday life.
Choosing Self Care for Life is about making improvements in your life to protect your physical health and mental wellbeing. It’s never too early to start making small changes to your lifestyle.
Follow these small steps to a healthier you, not just for Self Care Week- but to keep up as long as you can!
Get active – advice is to exercise for at least twenty minutes a day, it’s ideal if you can incorporate this into your day by ditching the car and walking to work, or walking the dog, taking the stairs or even dancing around the kitchen table to your favourite songs! You can download a free step tracker app which can be very encouraging to keep moving.
Eat well – We all know that healthy eating is crucial to our health so we can start by swapping unhealthy snacks for healthy options such as nuts, seeds and fruit. Ask your pharmacist for advice on managing your weight.
Make positive changes – Take steps to stop those bad habits that don’t serve you well. This Self Care Week make a plan to stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake and get active! Your pharmacist can help with lifestyle changes such as weight management and stop smoking services.
Rest – A good’s night’s sleep is as essential to our health and wellbeing as eating healthily and exercising so, make sure you get the recommended 7-8 hours a night!
Stop! – These days we lead have such busy lives that we sometimes forget to slow down and stop for a second. Find time in your day to just quieten your mind. Mindfulness or yoga might be helpful, or sign up to your local swimming pool and do a few laps after work- it’s amazing what some quality alone time can do for your mind and body.