2020: A new decade of self-care amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Friday, 24 July 2020

Article by the International Self-Care Foundation

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has illustrated the importance of self-care – in good hygiene practices such as handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and the use of facemasks. Self-care is also central to mutual risk reduction through physical distancing, in community spirit and collaboration, and in cultivating mental and physical wellbeing during lockdowns. This is especially true for elderly people and those with pre-existing chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, respiratory conditions and diabetes and obesity. The benefits of self-care are particularly significant for people with such chronic diseases.

To further illustrate how the lessons from the COVID-19 experience makes self-care a central component of everyone’s health, a new paper by the Mitchell Institute in Australia has been published in time for International Self-Care Day. July 24th is set aside each year to recognize self-care as an essential foundation for good health for individuals and populations. The new report, "Self-care and health: by all, for all" Learning from COVID-19, highlights the effectiveness of self-care in improving health and wellbeing for individuals and communities. 

Professor of Health Policy in Australia, Rosemary Calder says that “We have had strong national and local leadership throughout the COVID-19 experience that has been focussed on getting each one of us to help keep ourselves safe from infection, and to help others by doing so. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply this lesson to develop our health system to help people to be healthier, rather than waiting for them to be unwell with health problems that are preventable – which is what happens now.” 

The report recommends that governments focus on enabling the health system to embed self-care support in all health care services and to prioritise prevention and management of both infectious and chronic diseases, particularly in primary health care. “Self-care by all, for all, needs to become usual behaviour and practice in community life, with the same strong leadership from governments and health experts that has been so effective through the pandemic. This approach will not only help improve the health of individuals, it will build our ability to protect ourselves against infectious diseases like COVID-19.” 

Covid-related self-care measures (hand hygiene, masks and social distancing) are but a part of the Seven Pillars of Self-Care. When all seven pillars are encouraged and followed, the health benefits to society and the individual self-carer can be enormous. 

For more information, please visit: isfglobal.org