Self-care is a term that has gained immense momentum in the past year, in an era where most people have been stripped of their previous coping mechanisms and left to explore new ways to handle stress. Hearing this mantra may conjure up images of a face mask treatment, yoga sessions, or movie marathon, but in reality it is much more complex.
Although self-care boasts a history of blurry definitions in the past, the term actually grew out of the nursing field and a model called Orem’s Self Care Model. It encompasses both the intent and knowledge to care for one’s health, as well as the activities performed to accomplish this goal. A current model called the Seven Pillars of Self-Care framework categorizes self-care activities such as physical activity, healthy eating, and good hygiene.
Yet, self-care remains difficult to quantify. Pre-existing studies and frameworks have failed to provide an effective way to screen self-care activities, both in and outside of COVID-19 times. Developing this screening would help identify who is most likely to do self-care, and the activities they engage it. It is of utmost importance in an era where mental health issues and lack of holistic health care are as widespread as the virus itself.
In their pursuit to test existing screenings to develop an improved self-care screening method, a research team in Spain has developed a survey called the Self-care Activities Screening Scale (SASS-14) to measure self-care activities among Spanish-speaking populations during COVID-19. Because their survey is specific to the pandemic, they were able to recommend that screening for self-care during periods of extended lockdown should focus on physical care, nutrition, sleep, and emotional health.
As a result of this research, the SASS-14 is available as an online tool for healthcare workers to use to monitor how people are taking care of themselves during the extended lockdowns and lack of social contact that we are all experiencing.