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Health literacy – still the missing link to better wellness.

By Dr Selwyn Hodge, Self Care Forum Co-chair 

 

Many of us sometimes use the expression ‘Look after yourself’ when taking our leave from someone; but to be really helpful, we should consider whether they actually have the capacity or willingness to do so.

As we progress from being babies, through school and teenage years, into adulthood, it is to be hoped that we all have the opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills and determination to look after ourselves effectively, since this is a key characteristic shared by most other living organisms. However, all the evidence suggests that too many people don’t and can’t.

While we all respond naturally to life’s fundamental needs of eating and drinking, and react to painful stimuli etc., we are not necessarily that good at protecting our own health and looking after our bodies’ wellbeing.

Given the relatively advanced state of medical science today, it is worrying therefore that self-care in the UK is often less well established now than it was several decades ago.

Why is this? Well, although this response won’t be very popular, primarily because of the provision of universal healthcare, free at the point of access, which has led the majority of us to assume that we don’t need to worry over much about protecting our health, since, if we have any problems with our bodies, we can go and see somebody for a solution.

This idealistic situation would perhaps be a reasonable state of affairs, if we restricted any visits to a GP or to A&E to just serious or life threatening conditions, but, in fact, the evidence strongly suggests that many of the visits that do take place are for largely trivial matters, which we could quickly address ourselves through simple treatments and a basic knowledge of first aid.

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Compassion Fatigue – Why Carers Need To Care For Themselves As Well

by Helen Turner, a freelance writer and mother with a background in health, she finds it important to write about issues that could help facilitate change in people’s lives for the better.

Caring for others is a complex business. It can be tough physically, it’s often tough logistically, and it’s always tough emotionally. While it’s often rewarding, and brings with it a tenderness and an understanding of humanity on a level which others may never experience, it is also a complicated task, emotionally speaking. The mix of love, guilt, frustration, hope, anger, joy, and despair experienced by many carers can take a huge toll, leading to ‘burnout’ and a whole host of associated problems. When you’re caring for someone else, it is doubly important that you also practice self-care. Unfortunately, the nature of caring means that we often think that we have to be completely ‘selfless’ when caring for others, and we feel guilty about catering to our own needs. In fact, caring for yourself will help you to care for others more effectively and more compassionately, whereas being ‘selfless’ will lead to stress, anger, and burnout.

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