Self-caring Dimension

Dr Antonia Wrigley, 2016

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work.The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.


What is ‘Self-Caring’?

It may seem fairly self evident that self-care is about looking after ourselves but it is not always easy to do, especially when we most need to do so. Firstly we need to ‘care’ about ourselves – to value ourselves and our health. This may require us to cultivate self-compassion. Then we will need some knowledge of what is good for our health. We all now know that smoking is bad for our health and most people have a basic idea that they should eat healthy food and exercise but the specifics of this can be very confusing, with different messages in the media and even from health care professionals. But diet and exercise are only part of the picture. How we live our lives – how we work, play, relax, communicate and think – these are all important too.

Caring and knowledge are a good start and may help us look after our health much of the time, but we also need motivation and self-efficacy especially when we are dealing with habits or addictions.

To Come Home to Yourself

May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released.
May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquilities.
May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love.

John O’Donohue

Self-care for health practitioners

The patient’s treatment begins with the doctor, so to speak. Only if the doctor knows how to cope with himself and his own problems, will he be able to teach the patient to do the same

C G Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections

There is a growing awareness that we need to look after ourselves as health care practitioners. How can we look after our patients if we are not well and as importantly how can we encourage our patients to be self-caring if we aren’t doing it ourselves?

It is common in particular for doctors to ignore their own health needs perhaps feeling they need to work harder to help their patients more. Many are suffering from stress, mental health issues and burnout.

The Physician’s Pledge


I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE to dedicate my life to the service of humanity;

THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF MY PATIENT will be my first consideration;

I WILL RESPECT the autonomy and dignity of my patient;

I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human life;

I WILL NOT PERMIT considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;

I WILL RESPECT the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;

I WILL PRACTISE my profession with conscience and dignity and in accordance with good medical practice;

I WILL FOSTER the honour and noble traditions of the medical profession;

I WILL GIVE to my teachers, colleagues, and students the respect and gratitude that is their due;

I WILL SHARE my medical knowledge for the benefit of the patient and the advancement of healthcare;

I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard;

I WILL NOT USE my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;

I MAKE THESE PROMISES solemnly, freely, and upon my honour.

World Medical Association Declaration of Geneva – revised 2017 to include Self Care
The Revised Declaration of Geneva Modern-Day Physician’s Pledge

Resources for ourselves

Resources for our patients

  • Self care toolkit – Resources on common conditions, with advice on when to see your doctor, simple changes you can make, remedies you can try and classes or types of practitioner that may help. This is now part of the College of Medicine’s Our Health Directory
  • Self Care Forum – aims to promote self-care with helpful resources for GP’s and GP practices along with running a conference and promoting ‘Self Care Week’.
  • Doc Mike Evans on YouTube – some excellent and accessible visual whiteboard lectures on many aspects of health.