Self-care is Community Care
By: Jaime Slavin, RD. MPH.
Hi everyone! My name is Jaime, and I am thrilled to be a part of such an inspiring movement.
I was naturally drawn to the self-care movement for a number of reasons, from a personal and professional standpoint. Let’s get personal first. For the past 20 years, I have lived with a chronic health condition, ulcerative colitis. At the young age of 12, I was diagnosed with this irritable bowel disease (IBD) and learned how to cope with and manage the disease for the past two decades. The “positive” thing about me having this disease is that it brought me to my passion: food, nutrition and public health. From a young age, I was always interested in these topics, however, my disease is what motivated me to search for more answers, seek knowledge and pursue this field. I went on to become a Dietitian and achieved my Masters in Public Health, specializing in community nutrition.
Merging these worlds of my personal health experience with health stories from my studies, my clients and our community, it became evident that self-care is an underlying theme. Yet, it is often the missing link in health management in many people’s lives. The “self” is often neglected, or only paid attention to when we are diagnosed with a condition or disease. While this is likely a by-product of human nature, I believe that it is also a by-product of our society. This is one of the reasons that I was drawn to the self-care movement. When a topic like self-care becomes a “movement”, I feel like jumping for joy! When self-care becomes more mainstream, society as a whole becomes more comfortable embracing it. This is progress, and this is important.
While we all have different conditions or diseases that we are dealing with, self-care unifies us. Our versions of self-care may vary, but our responsibility to ourselves no matter what it may look like, has to be about self-care. Here’s why: self-care goes beyond caring for yourself, it has a ripple effect. When loved ones, friends, co-workers, and even strangers see your commitment to self-care, this inspires them. It sets a stage for why we must have strategies, techniques or coping tools that we use to care for ourselves. Having our own ‘self-care toolbelt’ helps us to manage our life. It improves our moods, our conditions, and our understanding of what we need to feel better. This doesn’t mean we have to be purely self-reliant and not ask for help, it means prioritizing your health and wellbeing to do things to show yourself that you do care about your-self.
The self-care movement also plays a bigger picture in our communities. From a public health perspective, self-care helps alleviate an often overly used health-care system. When we step up to care for ourselves in whatever capacity we can, we step up to care for the community and public at large. Healthy habits lead to healthier communities.
I look forward to sharing more posts with you in the future, to discuss strategies around nutrition and wellness practices that can help you on your self-care journey.