What is Self-Care?

The principle of self-care is a critical component of holistic nursing. Holistic nurses recognize that they cannot facilitate healing unless they are in the process of healing themselves. 

The World Health Organization defines self-care as "activities individuals, families, and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health. These activities are derived from knowledge and skills from the pool of both professional and lay experience. They are undertaken by lay people on their own behalf, either separately or in participative collaboration with professionals." (World Health Organization (1983). Health Education in Self-care: Possibilities and Limitations. Geneva: Author.)

AHNA and Self-Care

Holistic nursing practice requires the integration of self-care and personal development activities into one’s life.  Holistic nurses engage in self-assessment, self-care, and personal development, aware of being instruments of healing… (AHNA Standards of Holistic Practice, 2003) 

Holistic nurses value themselves and mobilize the necessary resources to care for themselves. They strive to achieve harmony and balance in their own lives and assist others to do the same. (AHNA Scope and Standards of Practice, Core Value 5, 2007)

Dorothea Orem’s Definition of Nursing

  • Nursing is the provision of self-care which is therapeutic in sustaining life and health, in recovering from disease or injury, or coping with their effects.
  • Nursing is a service to people, not a derivative of medicine.
  • Nursing promotes the goal of patient self-care

                       (D. Orem, Nursing Concepts of Practice, 1980) 

Self-care Practices

  • Self-assessment
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Good nutrition
  • Energy therapies
  • Movement or dance
  • Journaling 
  • Creative expression (art, music)





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