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What is Self Care?

‘Self care’ is a phrase you’ve probably come across, but what does it really mean?

Judging by what we see in adverts or on social media, you might think it’s all about candles, yoga and luxury bath bombs. You might think it costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. And you might feel like it isn’t for you. But what is it really all about?

In its simplest form, self care is just the little things you can do to look after your own physical and mental health. It’s about trying to listen to how you are feeling and understanding what you need, even if it’s difficult, so you can look after yourself, family, friends and people you care for.

This could mean taking timeout when you’re feeling overwhelmed; it could mean making time to do an activity that you know makes you feel good; or it could be as simple as making sure to do the basics like eating and sleeping well.

Most people can take care of themselves when they have a sore throat or cough rather than visiting their GP, while pharmacists can help by giving advice on over-the-counter medicines to treat some symptoms.

Where can I go for Self Care advice?

There is lots of information available to support you and to help you manage your health and care.

If you register for the NHS App, as well as allowing you to access a range of NHS services, order repeat prescriptions, book and manage appointment. Here you can find a complete guide to conditions, symptoms and treatments, including what to do and when to get help, as well as the A – Z of Health and Medicines .

This provides a complete guide to conditions, symptoms and treatments, including what to do and when to get help, including an A – Z of Health and Medicines.

Your local pharmacist can support you and your family when you are feeling unwell.

Pharmacists can advice you on many common illnesses. They are trained to offer health advice including which medications will help or treat your symptoms and can suggest when you need to see your doctor.  

Many pharmacies are open late into the evening and at the weekend, allowing you to walk in and ask for advice at a time that works for you and without the need for an appointment.

Your GP can longer give you a prescription for medicine that is widely available to buy over-the-counter at a pharmacy or supermarket. For minor conditions you can ask your pharmacist for support and/or specialist advice. The poster below explains more including a list of minor conditions you can safely treat yourself (or download the leaflet for more information). Items bought from your pharmacy are usually much cheaper than the prescription charge from your GP.

Watch this film for more information on over-the-counter medicines.

If you think you need medical help right now, 111 online can tell you what you need to do. You can complete a health assessment online by answering a series of questions about your condition. It will answer questions about your symptoms, and direct you to self-care advice or appropriate medical services. If you need NHS support they can book you an appointment with an urgent care service, such as an out-of-hours GP or an emergency dentist.

As well the online service, you can call 111 and receive the same NHS support on the telephone.

This service is free and available nationwide 24/7.

Self Care Information Leaflets

There are a range of conditions that you can treat and manage yourself. The Self Care leaflets below may help you.