First of all, what is self management?
Self management is a lot like self care. It is made up of the different actions and decisions you take to look after yourself. The only difference is that self management is talked about in the context of managing a long term condition.
Long term conditions are health conditions which last for a long time or indefinitely. Long term conditions come in all shapes and sizes. They can include depression, dermatitis, diabetes, chronic pain, and many more. What connects them all is that there is no simple cure. The actions you take in your everyday life can make the condition better or worse.
So self management refers to those actions that you take to make yourself better. Whether it’s being careful about what you eat, being more active, taking your medicine regularly or even ensuring you spend enough quality time with family and friends. It can be about knowing your symptoms and your triggers, as well as what helps. Whatever helps you cope, or even thrive, can fall under self management.Self management doesn’t mean managing by yourself. Self management is most effective when it’s done with the support of health professionals and others that can help. You could be working with a health coach to achieve better wellbeing. Attending support groups or going for organised walks to manage your health better. You could also be accessing more specific support, from peers or professionals, that is related to your condition.
So self management is a partnership, but it equips YOU with the skills and knowledge to be in the driving seat. On average, people who have one or more long term conditions spend less than 3 hours a year with their healthcare provider. The rest are spent self managing.
Self management can mean people being:
- better informed about their condition(s)
- better prepared for everyday challenges
- better supported when they need it
How is self management using digital tools different from everyday, non-digital self management?
As we’ve explored in the previous section, self management can take various forms. There are different technologies that can potentially help too, but the concept is not that different.
You might use a paper calendar to keep track of your symptoms or triggers. Or you might go to a community notice board to find out about support groups in your area. You might also write in a diary to keep track of your sleep and activity patterns. Digital self management means taking the same type of actions, but with the help of technology. You might use an app to track symptoms, an online search engine to find out what is available around you or an activity tracker to track your sleep.
These technologies, devices and digital services do some of the hard work for you, so you can focus on what matters to you.