How do we incorporate self-care into our lymphoedema care routines?
We all know that lymphoedema at this time is incurable but let us look at the bright side.
Our goal is to enable you to manage your lymphoedema, and while we believe completely in supported self-care, it is not always available on the NHS to those of us who live with this condition. Self-care does not have to be complicated but rather something simple and attainable. You should start small, be consistent, and patient with yourself. We will not only show you how to improve your life but we will also explain why.
A healthy and balanced life depends on taking care of your mind and body and is so important to those of us who live with lymphoedema. Living with a life-long condition we face daily challenges, and these may take a toll on our mental health. We shouldn't let lymphoedema define who we are. It is the continuous practice of our daily small routines that, when combined, ensure that our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing are at their best.
Here are our suggestions:
Skincare: Skincare will always be top of our list and is one of the most important aspects of self-care for lymphoedema. For those of us living with lymphoedema, the goal is to keep infection from entering our body through the skin and to keep our skin from becoming dry and flaky. That is why it is critical to wash our skin daily, dry ourselves thoroughly, and moisturise every day. Examine the skin for breaks caused by wounds, bites, or scratches. If possible, moisturise your skin twice a day.
Eat healthily: Although there is no special diet for lymphoedema, nutritious grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein are recommended to support healthy lymphatic function. Avoid processed foods and carbonated drinks. Weight control is essential because it has been suggested that the extra fatty tissue affects the lymphatic channels, reducing the flow of fluid through them.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluid, especially water we call this moisturizing from within. Limit your alcohol consumption because it is high in calories and can have negative health effects if consumed in excess.
Get moving: Add movement to your daily self-care routine. Movement is key to control lymphoedema, reduce swelling, keep lymph fluid flowing which will improve lymphatic health. The lymphatic system circulates lymph fluid from head to toe. This is your defence mechanism to fight infections, viruses, bacteria, and disease, Therefore the lymphatic system relies on you to move it because it does not have its own pump. Adding movement to your daily routine helps the muscles pump the lymph fluid around your body.
Sleep: It is essential for your general health and wellbeing to get a good night’s sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours to help strengthen your immune system, lessen stress, and enhance memory.
Compression: By using your prescribed compression, you are taking charge of your own self-care. Your compression garment will aid in the maintenance and reduction of swelling as well as relief of discomfort. This works by applying pressure to the tissues, prevents fluid accumulation and aids fluid drainage from the affected location.
Reducing Stress: Reducing stress and enhancing mental health can be achieved through practising mindfulness. To help you unwind and maintain attention, consider doing yoga, deep breathing exercises, or meditation.
Be kind to yourself: Find time for you. Take breaks throughout your day, find a quiet place to have a cuppa, go for a walk, read a book or listen to your favourite music.
The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally altered our way of life. Our work, learning style, and social connections have all been impacted. Our new world presents us with a distinct set of challenges.
Self-care is more important than ever for maintaining our mental health and wellbeing.
Self-care is a deliberate action taken to improve one's physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
We all need to find the time to practice self-care whether at home, in the workplace or while we are out and about.
Speak to someone every day, whether that is by phone, messaging services or in person. Isolation is not good for your lymphatic health and may create further anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Join a club or group, take up a new hobby or learn something new. There lots of opportunities to expand your learning and it does not have to be academic.
Have a meal at your favourite cafe, pub, or restaurant. Call a friend, go to the coffee shop together or even a shopping trip with friends. Spend time with the people you want to spend time with.
The Self Care Forum is a national charity with a big heart, whose goal is to encourage self-care for everyone whether you have an illness or not. How do we define self-care? It is about you and me, our families, and healthcare organisations taking the time to promote, maintain, and prevent sickness, as well as learning to cope with long-term ailments and disabilities.
All this is done through our health care provider in the UK which is the NHS. The Self Care Forum provide fact sheets for everyday ailments from back pain, to coughs even urinary incontinence the list is extensive, and they are available to you free of charge on their website. Their fact sheets are peer and layperson reviewed plus evidenced based.
Prior to publication, Mary and I have both peer reviewed some of the fact sheets for the Self Care Forum.
Currently, the Self Care Forum has ten fact sheets translated into Urdu.
Social Self Care and Wellbeing
For further details on selfcare while living with lymphoedema read more ...
Technology Enabled Care
Did you know that health and social care in England is based on a person-centred approach? This gives us as individuals our families and communities the choice to personalise our health and social care. The tools we are given are aimed at managing our own conditions with support from our health care provider to improve our health, care, and wellbeing
Over the last few years there has also been a push towards Technology Enabled Care (TEC). Initially a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) should be carried out to determine if TEC can benefit the individual, this is aimed at keeping those of us who live with long-term conditions in own home, when things start to get difficult. The HNA will be undertaken by, doctors, nurses, occupational health practitioners or private TEC providers. The initial assessment would look at all the individual’s needs, difficulties the individual is experiencing and whether using TEC will improve the quality of life and wellbeing. Covid-19 has accelerated the need for TEC especially with phone calls and video messaging services.
TEC may include telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and tele coaching this should provide care to help you control your own health and social care, to jointly make decisions about your care and what you feel is right for you. Here is brief look at what is available:
Telehealth - monitored equipment aimed at reducing GP appointments and reduced hospital stays (monthly cost involved on monitoring).
Telecare - Designed to send alerts to a dedicated call centre when a patient has a problem (monthly cost involved).
Telemedicine - access to 24/7 care designed for quick access via mobile health apps, mobile medical devices that monitor and track health, sharing medical reports.
Tele-coaching - support via mobile, landline or video messaging services by trained practitioners, to give practical support, guided self-help to plan and maintain their health at home for as long as possible.