As someone who is extremely passionate about self-care, particularly within the healthcare profession, I believe it is a topic that is often overlooked and misunderstood. Many people have a superficial understanding of what self-care entails, and I have seen first-hand the consequences of neglecting one’s own well-being while studying. The healthcare profession is notorious for its fast-paced and high-stress environment, which can lead to burnout and compassion fatigue if not managed properly.

A holistic definition of self-care would be useful in order to fully understand what self-care entails and advance the understanding for all individuals as then greater clarity can be achieved. Self-care covers the physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual care of oneself and engaging in activities and tasks that promote health in all aspects of life. Self-care is a way for people to have control over their own health as well as the decisions which affect one’s well-being as this promotes independence and self-help.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the issue of self-care in the healthcare profession to the forefront, highlighting the lack of emphasis on this critical topic. The effects of burnout and compassion fatigue became increasingly apparent, accompanied by a growing disengagement and apathy towards work among healthcare professionals. Self-care is not only essential for patients and clients, but also for healthcare professionals themselves, as it enables them to manage their workload more effectively, promote overall health, and reduce the risk of burnout.

The Benefits of Self-Care:

Self-care promotes resilience among healthcare workers, creates an effective working environment, and fosters a holistic approach to health that can be passed on to patients. It encompasses physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual care, and involves engaging in activities that promote health in all aspects. This includes:

  • Healthy eating and exercise habits
  • Socialising and building emotionally intimate relationships
  • Developing coping mechanisms and healthy boundaries
  • Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment
  • Prioritising rest and relaxation

By prioritising self-care, healthcare professionals can:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve their overall well-being
  • Increase their job satisfaction and engagement
  • Provide better care for their patients
  • Reduce the risk of burnout and compassion fatigue

Promoting Independence and Reducing Burden on the Healthcare System

By emphasising self-care, individuals can take greater control over their own health and well-being, reducing the strain on the healthcare system. Non-professional and community-based approaches to mental health support should be promoted, showing how accessible and widely available treatment options are that cater to individual choices and needs. This can include:

  • Community support groups
  • Online resources and therapy platforms
  • Self-help books and educational materials
  • Alternative therapies and wellness programs

Psychoeducation and Awareness

Psychoeducation on self-care should be emphasised in all spheres of life, enabling individuals to take a primary role in their own care and recognise their body’s needs. This can be achieved through:

  • Workshops and training programs
  • Educational materials and resources
  • Public awareness campaigns
  • Integrating self-care into school curricula

By prioritising self-care and promoting awareness and education, we can create a society that values and prioritises overall well-being, reducing the burden on the healthcare system and promoting a healthier, happier population.

Author: Chloe Kydd

References: 

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2023.1190049/full

https://www.longdom.org/open-access/importance-of-selfcare-for-both-healthcare-professionals-and-patients-103131.html

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17441692.2023.2296970

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354156453_Review_on_the_Importance_of_Self-care_in_Health

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00787-023-02320-7

https://positivepsychology.com/self-care-strategies-therapists/