What is self-management?

Self-management is a set of approaches which help you manage your own health. This could be your physical health, mental health or both. 

Self-management involves:

  • Being in touch with what matters to you and how you want your care to help.
  • Finding out more about your condition
  • Learning new skills to help you manage your health - for example, how to search online for good quality information; how to manage your medicines; learning inhaler technique for asthma.
  • Working in partnership with your healthcare team to choose what is right for you.

Your healthcare professional will  support you to self-manage. This can involve providing information or helping you gain the skills you need. 


Common questions

Why should I self-manage? 

Benefits of self-management include

More control 

Understanding your condition can enable you to ask questions and tell healthcare professionals what you want. 

It can also help you to manage your health, for example by controlling your blood sugar if you have diabetes. 

Saving time and money 

Having a day off or arranging childcare while you see a health professional can be difficult.

Managing your condition can reduce the number of appointments. 

Reduced anxiety 

Knowing what a symptom or diagnosis means can help reduce your anxiety. 

It can also make you more confident about when you need to seek help. 

Better outcomes 

Recognising when your symptoms are getting worse, knowing what to do and when to get help can reduce your risk of serious complications. 

Isn’t that my healthcare professional’s job? 

People with a long-term health condition spend an average of less than four hours a year with their healthcare team. Self-management can help you the rest of the time. 

People who are actively involved in their own care generally have better outcomes. 

How do I self-manage? 

There are some simple resources which can help you get started. This app outlines some of these resources. 

You can also speak to your healthcare professional about how to get more involved in self-management.

What support should I get? 

Your healthcare professional should help you to self-manage by: 

  • Giving you access to a wide range of information which is easy to understand 
  • Helping you develop an action plan 
  • Listening to your concerns 


Top tips

Ask questions 

  • If there is anything you want to know, ask your healthcare professional. This could be about your treatment options. It could also be about possible complications or about where to get support. 

Do your research 

  • Learning more about your condition can help you to understand and manage it. Ask your healthcare professional about reliable information sources, or contact your local public library. For more on finding reliable information, see our section about information and digital tools. 

Get support 

  • This can be from your healthcare team, friends, family or work colleagues. You can also use the information sources in this app to look for support groups, national charities and patient groups.  

Choose your priorities 

  • Long-term conditions can make dealing with certain tasks more difficult. Working out which things are most important can help to take the pressure off. 

Take your medication 

  • Follow the advice of your GP or pharmacist about medication. Always speak to your healthcare professional before stopping any medication. 
  • A pill organiser or a reminder on your phone is a good way to make sure you take medication at the right times. 

Tell people what helps  

  • If certain treatments have worked in the past, tell your healthcare professional. Let your family and friends know what they can do to support you. 

Spot your early warning signs 

  • If you can, try to be aware of how you are feeling and watch out for signs you are becoming unwell. 

Accept your diagnosis 

  • Acceptance is not about giving up. It is about recognising your condition and taking control. 

Set goals 

  • Set simple, realistic goals in an action plan. Your healthcare professional can help you. Remember to be patient. It may take you weeks or even months to see improvements.


  • Appropriate exercise and stretching can decrease pain and increase relaxation. Speak to your healthcare professional about the best exercises for you. 

Keep a diary 

  • Tracking your progress will help you see how far you have come. It can help you build on your success. It can also help you see what to avoid. 

Plan for setbacks 

  • Think about what you will do if things do not go well. Being prepared for setbacks can make them easier to deal with. 


Self-management tools and resources

Here are some quality assured tools and resources to help you to self-manage.

NHS inform - List of self-management tools and apps 

ALISS - A Local Information System for Scotland

ALISS can help you find information about resources like:

  • services that support people in managing long term conditions
  • community support groups - for example, local choirs, book groups, befriending
  • opportunities for getting more active and for getting outdoors - for example, badminton clubs, community gardens
  • practical, legal, and financial support - for example, money advice, advocacy services
  • digital technology that can support health and social care


Manage medicines - A web and mobile app funded by Scottish Government to build people's knowledge and confidence in managing their medicines 


Living well with dementia - A web and mobile app funded by Scottish Government to support wellbeing for people living with dementia and their carers. Provides directories of local and national resources and support.  


Long COVID - A web and mobile app from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network to support people living with long COVID to self-manage. 

Self-management training courses

Below are examples of courses to help you to develop knowledge, skills and confidence in managing your long-term condition. Ask your healthcare professional about other training courses in your area and for your condition.

Bipolar Scotland 

Bipolar Scotland offers a number of training courses aimed at helping people feel better able to self-manage the symptoms of living with bipolar disorder. These courses are exclusively available to members of Bipolar Scotland, and free for members to attend.

LGOWIT (Let's Get on with it Together) - Self-management in challenging times online course.

An engaging and informative course  designed for people who are living with any long term condition. Currently available free of charge to anyone living with a long term condition in the Highland local authority area by registering here.  Anyone else who is interested in accessing the course should contact  lgowit@highlandtsi.org.uk or phone: 07462 171 369 to discuss the options.

Pain Association Scotland - Chronic pain self-management course

This course provides a special opportunity to further your understanding of chronic pain, build skills and gain insights in the self-management approach to health. The aim is to help you to live well, despite the pain and also gain valuable peer support.

My mental and emotional wellbeing

The struggles of self-management can affect your emotional and mental health.

Your mental and emotional wellbeing has a big impact on how confident you feel about managing your condition and living well with it.

Am I at risk of anxiety or depression?

The following questionnaires can help you to assess whether you are at risk of anxiety or depression. This can help you to discuss with your healthcare professional whether you need support.

You should ask for support from your healthcare professional to complete these questionnaires and to understand the results.

Assess your anxiety level

Assess your depression score

Setting emotional wellbeing goals

Emotional goal setting is a very personal process. So be sure to take the time to think your goals through before you start pursuing them. Choose goals that are important to you. This will help you stay motivated.

Think about the results of your anxiety and depression questionnaires before setting your emotional wellbeing goals. Some examples of emotional wellbeing goals might be:

  • Take care of and be kind to your body.
  • Make time for mindfulness.
  • Find new ways to manage stress, anxiety or depression.
  • Seek support. This might be support from friends and family. It might also include starting therapy if recommended by your healthcare professional.

Resources to support your mental and emotional wellbeing

Silvercloud and Daylight courses

  • Silvercloud is a website with courses to improve your mental wellbeing. You can sign up for free using your email address.
  • Daylight is a digital programme to help improve symptoms of anxiety. It is available as an app on IOS and Android. It is free to access via the NHS in some postcode areas, and requires your email address and the first half of your postcode to sign up.

Building your self-esteem

MIND UK provides a range of resources to help build your self-esteem. This can help you to get your voice heard. It will also help you to take more control over decisions about your health and wellbeing.