Your health, your way

Your NHS guide to long-term conditions and self care

What is self care?

Find out about the support that's available to help you look after yourself if you have a long-term condition.

Self care means looking after yourself in a healthy way, whether it’s brushing your teeth, taking medicine when you have a cold, or doing some exercise.

If you have a long-term condition, there are extra things you may need to consider, such as making changes to your diet, different types of exercise or different types of medication you may need to take.

Self care also means staying active by doing things that are important to you, such as gardening, seeing friends and family, going on holiday, or continuing to work, if possible. It involves looking at what you can do and want to do, rather than what you can’t do.

Living a healthy lifestyle is an important part of self care for everyone. There's lots of useful healthy living information in the Live Well section of this site. If you're living with a long-term condition, Your health, your way has advice on self care and taking control of your health.

Self care doesn’t mean you get less help from your doctor. The healthcare team is still there to support you. What and how much support you need will be discussed with you and written in your care plan.

Self care and choice

When you talk to your GP or nurse about your condition, you may want to discuss some of the things you need to do to stay well. Some of these will be things that you do yourself, such as eating healthily, exercising, or taking your medicines at the right time.

You might want to make choices about your care and who will provide it. This means sitting down with your nurse or GP and looking at what treatment and care is available and recording it in a care plan.

When you’re first diagnosed with a long-term condition, these choices will be important. Whether your condition improves or gets worse, or other things in your life change, you may need to change your care plan to suit your needs.

Page last reviewed: 30/10/2012

Next review due: 30/10/2014

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