The term self-care was first coined in the 1950s, and it spread from the medical community to the wider community in the 1960s, thanks to civil rights activists, in particular, The Black Panther Party. But what does self-care mean? It means taking care of yourself and doing what is healthiest in a holistic way for you on any given day. Knowing their history helps to frame their importance in the current context, especially. The original and perhaps the only star of self-care is Audre Lorde, whose conceptualization of self-care as a form of protest is the most critical. Self-care has been defined as the process of caring for oneself with behaviors that promote health and the active management of the disease when it occurs.
People engage in some form of self-care every day with food, exercise, sleep, and dental care options. While the concept of self-care has received greater attention in recent years, it has ancient origins. Socrates has been credited with founding the self-care movement in ancient Greece, and loved ones have been proven to exist since human beings appeared on earth. Self-care remains a primary form of healthcare across the world. People themselves were responsible for their own health and that of their families, since self-reliance was mandatory and almost universal.
As we enter the 1970s, the history of self-care overlaps with the growing awareness of medical racism. Lorde coined one of the most important and referenced lines in the history of self-care, and the concept of self-care was already a crucial tool for people of color, women, poor communities and the LGBTQ movement, as they worked to dismantle systems, working tirelessly to keep them down. The traffic light plan helps patients make decisions about what steps to take in the event of different signs and symptoms and when to contact their healthcare team in the event of a problem. Michel Foucault understood that the art of living (art de vivre French, Latin ars vivendi) and self-care (French le souci de soi) were fundamental to philosophy. They understood the important role that self-care plays for the rights of women, blacks and marginalized communities in general. As a result, in the last 40 years there has been a setback against the paternalistic model of health, towards a more person-centered approach involving self-care.
The term had been used against African slaves and, later, freed African Americans who were considered “incapable of practicing self-care and self-government” and, therefore, were unequal in the eyes of the government. Beginning in the 19th century and continuing into the 20th century, health care was revolutionized by scientific and medical discoveries, technological advances in diagnosis, surgery and medications, and the development of health professions. Although his work was prophetic and hugely influential in the decades after it, it wasn't until the 2000s that the idea of self-care would receive the attention it deserved. However, Lorde's contribution to the topic of self-care was only recognized by the smallest marginalized communities. This paternalistic approach to medicine, supported by health systems designed to treat the disease (rather than prevent it), remains a familiar aspect of healthcare in many countries to this day. In patients with diabetes and chronic heart disease, financial barriers are associated with poor access to care, poor quality of care, and vascular disease. They informed readers that it was OK to take time and take care of yourself before worrying about the rest of the world. These events are key plots in the historical chronology of self-care and its integration into American dialogue on health and wellness.
Self-care is not a new activity; people have necessarily managed their own health since humanity began. It is an essential part of our lives today as well as an important tool for social justice movements.