New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care 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 worker. WHO adds that self care interventions are among the most promising new approaches to improve health and well-being of the individuals. It states that self-care includes everything related to staying physically, mentally healthy — including hygiene, nutrition, and seeking medical care when needed. In simple terms, self care is basically all the steps an individual can take to manage stressors in their life and take care of health and well-being.
Currently 3.6 billion people – half of the world – lack access to essential health services. WHO recommends self care interventions for every country and economic setting, as a critical path to reach universal health coverage, promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.
Also Read: Self Care: Five Tips For Your Everyday Life
WHO’s Guidelines On Self Care
WHO states that these recommendations on self care interventions can help meet the health needs for people worldwide – and particularly in settings with the fewest resources and least infrastructure. The recommendations include:
• Over-the counter pharmacy provision of pregnancy self-tests
• Pharmacy access to emergency contraception (or “the morning-after pill”)
• Availability of lubrication to help individuals improve their sexual health and pleasure
• Self-management of iron and folic acid supplementation being made available as an option during pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postnatal periods
• Self-monitoring of blood glucose during pregnancy
• Self-monitoring of blood pressure during pregnancy;
On the other hand, experts say self-care plays an extremely important role in women’s overall health and well-being – mental and physical. Talking about the same, Manjulaa Narasimhan, scientist at WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research including the special joint-UN programme HRP (Health Reproductive Programme) says,
Whether it’s for the experience of pregnancy and childbirth; managing fertility intentions, preventing sexually transmitted infections; enjoying better sexual health for themselves or their partner, or self-monitoring their blood pressure, access to quality self-care interventions can help meet people’s many health needs and rights.
Also Read: This #MothersDay focus on self-care, here’s why it is important and how it can contribute towards overall well-being and health, especially for women.
Dr. Tina Gupta, a Delhi-based Psychiatrist, and Psychotherapist working specifically with women, children, and adolescents, says, self-care is the first step towards looking after your mental and physical health. Dr Gupta suggested some easy-to-follow tips for self-care that one can start following right away.
Try yoga and meditation. These are some of the best ways to feel light and positive. It is highly recommended to adopt these methods of self-care into your daily life. Meditation can help reduce blood pressure, as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety, and depression. Secondly, make sure you are eating the right food. One can help prevent short-term memory loss and inflammation, both of which can have long-term effects on the brain and, in turn, the rest of the body. Lastly, make sure to get your 8 hours of sleep to feel good inside and out.
Maternal Health Division of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India has also listed down some guidelines of self-care for expecting mothers. It states that expecting mothers should do the following as a part of self-care:
– A well balanced diet consisting of a variety of food is a must for expecting mothers. It helps in the growth of the baby and prevents anaemia
– Mothers need to eat one extra meal a day during pregnancy and ensure they consume milk, dairy products like curd, buttermilk, paneer-these are rich in calcium, proteins and vitamins and eat fresh/seasonal fruits and vegetables as these provide vitamins and iron
– Adequate rest is another thing that is critical and should be included as a part of self care routine. It gives physical and mental relaxation which is good for both mother and the baby
Importance Of Self Care
WHO and many health experts feel self-care is an important part of living a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Public health specialist Dr Jyoti Vajpyee adds,
Generally, each one of us are living an increasingly busy lives and it can be easy to forget to put yourself first, especially if you have multiple responsibilities and other people to care for. But looking after yourself will make you feel better, and the better you feel, the better you will be in all areas of your life – from work to relationships. On the other hand, when we talk about women. Self-care is very important for them. There are many stages in women’s life – from puberty to motherhood to menopause, women’s body are continuously going through changes in such a scenario, how women take care of their health in the form of self-care becomes utmost importance.
Dr. Tina Gupta adds,
Self-care has a number of benefits, committing to self-care improves person’s overall well-being. It can improve your physical health; it can help reduce anxiety or stress. It can also help boost overall self-esteem, take care of your mental health and help you lead better relationships. The basic formula is the happier and healthier you are, the more you can give to your life and overall wellbeing.
Dr Jyoti Vajpyee concludes by saying,
One should take time out for their well-being and focus on simpler activities like exercise, getting enough sleep, doing relaxing activities, such as taking a warm bath, listening to music or practising yoga or meditation. All these can help a person feel more relaxed and reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, anger.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.