November 16-22nd marks Self-Care Week 2020, an initiative that’s more important than ever.
When the pandemic started to unfold around the globe, it was inevitable that the NHS might face some pressure. Many GP surgeries were forced to close their doors, and waiting times for phone appointments grew increasingly long. But there are many ways you can look after your own physical and mental health, leaving vital services for those most in need.
What is self-care?
Self-care can mean different things to different people. Some people will consider getting 8 hours of sleep every night a good form of self-care – others might define it as five minutes with a cup of tea to sit, breathe, and relax. The Self-Care Forum defines it as: “the actions that individuals take to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.”
This starts with simple lifestyle choices, such as brushing your teeth, eating healthily or choosing to exercise. It then progresses to taking care of yourself when you have a minor illness or condition, like a cough, cold or allergy. This is often done by using over-the-counter treatments.
Self-care in the age of COVID-19
For Self-Care Week 2020, there are targeted steps that you can take to protect your health in the midst of a pandemic. These include:
- Taking vitamin D supplements. This is particularly important if you’re shielding and unable to go outside.
- Being mindful of your mental health. It’s easy to feel isolated, so try to stay connected with friends and family for a sense of perspective.
- Eating well, exercising regularly, and getting a good night’s sleep. Doing these things will help to maximize your immune system.
- Understand how to manage minor and long-term health conditions.
The link between sleep, self-care and immunity
Getting enough sleep is vital for your health. Sleep is a natural immune booster, and regularly getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways you can improve your immunity. While trying to sleep more won’t necessarily stop you from becoming ill, depriving yourself of sleep could negatively affect your immune system. This can make you susceptible to colds, flu, and viruses. If snoring or sleep apnoea is stopping you from getting the sleep you need, you should take steps to deal with it.
Can I take care of my snoring or sleep apnoea by myself?
Self-care can start with a few simple lifestyle changes. Alcohol, smoking and being overweight can all increase your risk of snoring, so it’s a good idea to closely monitor these factors.
If lifestyle changes don’t work, a snoring relief product could help you get a better night’s sleep. When it comes to self-care, educating yourself is key – not many people are aware that there are different types of snoring. This means that different products will treat different types: snoring with congestion, everyday snoring, and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). To diagnose what type of snorer you are, click here to use our snoring diagnosis tool. We’ll be able to recommend the treatment that’s right for you based on your snoring symptoms.
When should you visit your GP?
You should visit your doctor if you suspect you might have OSA. Snoring is caused by the soft tissue in the back of the throat vibrating when your airway relaxes during sleep. But in some cases, the airway becomes so narrow that the walls of the airway stick together and close up. This usually happens for around 10-30 seconds at a time, but can occur for longer – sometimes up to 50 times an hour or even more. When the airway finally opens up again, you might emit a loud, violent snore. This event is known as an apnoea.
OSA is a serious condition; if left untreated, it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Your doctor will be able to recommend the treatment most suitable for you. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you’ll be able to manage your self-care of the condition at home. This will most likely be with a CPAP machine, or an oral device.
By making the necessary changes, you could see a huge improvement in your wellbeing. Use Self-Care Week 2020 as the springboard you need to reclaim your sleep and your health.