The date ‘24th July’ has a tremendous symbolic significance as far as well-being and self-care is concerned. Interestingly, 24/7 signifies round-the-clock care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For caregivers, recognising the symbolism of '24th July' is crucial as it highlights the need for self-care while providing unwavering support to others.

Dr Vishal Sehgal, President, Portea Medical, “We saw numerous instances of doctors falling sick or even losing their lives due to fatigueand stress during the pandemic. It is also aims to raise awareness about the importance of self-care, and the positive impact it can have on our lives. This month is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of selfcare practices and interventions, and call for renewed commitments to expand health systems to include self-care. It is time for all of us to delve deeper into the need of self-care for caregivers, look at the challenges they face, and provide practical strategies to nurture their own well-being.”

“Even as they care for others, caregivers tend to often neglect their own health and wellness. There is no doubt about the importance of the role played by caregivers in ensuring the health and wellness of the population. However, when the ‘call of duty’ overtakes their own health needs, caregivers end up suffering from burnout, fatigue, diabetes, obesity, and a diversity of other conditions. What compounds the situation is the tremendous shortage of resources in the arena. WHO estimates put the shortage of caregivers at around 10 million health workers globally. Further, there is inadequate access to basic healthcare services for billions of people, and the rising frequency of humanitarian crises through social and environmental causes is pursuing greater stress on the caregivers and healthcare delivery systems year-on-year,” Dr Vishal Sehgal.

How to ensure self-care for caregivers Acceptance is the first step to bringing about any kind of change towards a healthier and more balanced living. Caregivers must understand that prioritising self-care is neither selfishness nor luxury, but a primary need for their own well-being and ensuring that they remain capable of providing quality care to others for a long time. It is important to set a healthy and practical daily routine.

Dr Vishal Sehgal says by incorporating these simple yet powerful practices into your daily routine can make a significant difference in managing stress and staying resilient:

• Short Breaks for Mind and Body: Taking brief pauses throughout the day, even if only a few minutes, allows you to recharge your mind and release tension in the body. Use this time to practice deep breathing or gentle stretching exercises.

• Meditation & exercise: As simple physical activity like walking or indulging in any favourite

sport can make huge impact for one’s well-being. Whether it's a few moments of meditation

or mindful breathing, these practices can alleviate stress and promote mental clarity.

• Set Boundaries: Learn to say "no" when necessary and establish boundaries to prevent

burnout. Healthcare is a 24/7 field and doctors often end up taking ‘duty calls’ during their

relaxationsleep hours too. It's okay to delegate some tasks and ask for help when needed, is

neither a weakness nor a dereliction of duty.

• Reach Out for Support: Don't hesitate to seek professional and emotional support fromfriends, family, or support groups. Sharing your experiences and feelings can provide comfortand remind you that you're not alone in your caregiving journey.

Advancements in medical technology have also made it possible to practice self-care for caregivers.Tools and applications that can track and monitor health parameters on a real time basis, remind aboutmedication schedules, and provide access to online health communities are now easily available.

Further, the rise of home healthcare services has also become a key source of empowerment forcaregivers. Home healthcare companies provide services such as chronic disease management,preventive care, skilled medical support, transparency in treatment, and customised home-based careservices to alleviate the burden on institutional caregivers, and provide them opportunities for selfcare.

There are online health communities, mental health platforms, self-care reminder apps, AI tools, andvirtual reality therapy opinions that are increasingly helping caregivers by providing information, peersupport, and personalised guidance. Another key aspect of self-care is to be aware and educated.

When caregivers understand the importance and benefits of self-care, they will be more inclined tointegrate such practices into their daily routines. Companies, healthcare providers, and medicalcommunities must collaborate and actively promote self-care for all through dedicated programmes,workshops, and sharing of online resources to support caregivers in their efforts.

Self-care is an essential source of self-empowerment for caregivers. It is time to acknowledge theirown needs and adopt healthy routines as well as implement practical strategies at work. By nurturingtheir own well-being, caregivers can further enhance their ability to deliver quality care. Withtechnology and home healthcare service providers acting as invaluable support systems, caregiversare well-positioned to practiceself-care. The need of the hour is to foster a collaborative andsupportive environment that identifies and emphasises on self-care and creates a conduciveenvironment.

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