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Something not frequently addressed by the survival and prepping community is the importance of good health and medical self-care. What I am referring to is individual responsibility for our own physical and mental wellness.
Why is this important? If there were to be a major disruptive event, whether local, regional or global in nature, you will need the stamina to survive adverse and even austere conditions, perhaps with minimal food, shelter, and water. Health care facilities may be scarce, if they exist at all.
Think about it. As much as we prep and do our best to store a year’s worth of food and supplies, how much attention do we actually pay to taking care of ourselves and staying informed of medical issues and topics? For most of us, I can pretty much guarantee that food, water, and supplies come first, closely followed by bullets and band-aids.
In a very worst case scenario, would you have the stamina and health to leave the comfort of your home with only the clothes on your back, a bug-out-bag and whatever else you could physically carry? Answer honestly. Are you healthy enough to do that?
Even if you were not required to leave your home, would you have the mental acuity to handle the challenge of no electricity, no running water, and no sewer or septic system for waste?
I ask these questions today not to chide you to lose ten pounds or to take on a rigorous exercise routine. Instead I ask them so that you will think about your own health in terms of those things you can do now to become accomplished at medical self-care so that you will stay healthy and stay fit even when professional medical care is not readily available.
But first let us define medical self-care.
8 Things You Can Do Now to Promote Medical Self-Care
What the Heck is Medical Self-care?
Medical self-care is defined as those things that individuals do to deal with minor illness and injuries at home, including preventing, detecting, and treating sickness and disease. Nothing weird, nothing “out there”. Instead, medical self-care refers to making an attempt to initially take hold of and treat minor healthcare issues yourself.
Or, put another way, simply asking yourself if you need to see a health care provider or weather you can you apply a home treatment instead. Medical self-care can be as simple as taking an over-the-counter medication for a headache, using essential oils to relieve minor aches and pains, or securing a sprained ankle with an ace bandage.
Most important, medical self-care means you are an active participant in your own health. And for that, you need to take a proactive stance and take control over your own well-being.
8 Rules of Medical Self Care that will Ensure Survival in Adverse Conditions
1. Listen to your body since you know yourself best. When you do not feel well, take care of yourself.
Since the beginning of time, humans have suffered from mild illnesses and simply taken it easy until the illness passed. These days, however, with computers, the internet, cell phones and other gizmos, a lot of sick time is spent in the digital world instead getting real rest. If you are going to be your optimal self, when feeling unwell, take the time to slow down for a few hours or a day, and give yourself time to heal.
2. Stay abreast of common first aid procedures and utilize readily available resources to stay knowledgeable of viable solutions to everyday medical maladies.
With the resources currently available, much day to day doctoring can be done at home. Things like taking one’s vital signs and blood pressure or testing one’s urine are easily and safely accomplished at home. Learning to do these things now without reliance on a health professional will allow to take control of your own wellness no matter what happens in our society.
Additional Reading: Managing Blood Pressure With Essential Oils
3. Understand that being healthy and being well means more than simply being disease free.
The spread between wellness and illness is large with a lot of room in between. Prevention means focusing on good health while you are still on the wellness side of the spectrum rather than waiting to act only when disease or disability occurs.
4. The goal of any health care system should be to help people stay healthy by giving them the tools that they need to take care of themselves. You need to make that happen yourself.
To a large extent, individual practitioners still feel this way but for one reason or another, have had to subrogate those feelings as part of their alliance with large group practices. These larger practices, many of which are huge conglomerates , have allegiance to big pharma and wall street interests. This means that patient care comes secondary to making money.
The solution? Individuals need to take more responsibility themselves through knowledge and through healthy lifestyle choices. And when we do need medical care, we need to seek out healthcare workers who put our own needs first, above and beyond those of their employer or the greedsters who only care about money and huge year-end bonuses.
5. Genetics and environmental conditions aside, we all have a degree of control over our health and wellness. Eat a healthy diet and embrace an active lifestyle.
The human body has incredible healing powers if given half a chance to fix itself. In order to restore itself, however, we need to treat the body with respect by feeding it a healthy diet and giving it regular exercise. In addition, from a mental and spiritual point of view, we need to provide ourselves with a meaningful and strategic life.
Remember this: practicing medical self care is one more way of taking control of your life.
6. Prevention is the best medicine and will help you catch problems early.
There are no guarantees that prevention will eradicate illness but chances are if you catch a medical problem early, it will be easier and less expensive to resolve. The price you pay is in time.
Take the time to educate yourself about home remedies, herbal remedies, essential oils, and homeopathic remedies. When you do need the services of a health care provider, take the time to research and find the best preventative professionals: acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, naturopathic, physical therapy, and exercise coach.
7. Do not short change yourself when it comes to mental wellness.
We live in a stressful world. Although we don’t know how these uncertain times will play out nationally as well as globally, there is a lot of fear and anxiety bubbling under the surface. Add prepping and never feeling ready and you are bound to be a bundle of nerves.
Develop coping mechanisms, whether they come in the form of hobbies, reading, or simply enjoying some down time watching a movie or playing with your pets. Meditation works for some as does adult coloring. Whatever you chose, make time for yourself.
Additional Reading: 13 Ways To Roll With the Punches and Nine Reasons Why Adult Coloring is Important to Preppers
8. Get enough sleep. It has been proven that sleep reduces illness and helps the body rebuild on a cellular level.
I have said this in the past. Most of us push sleep to the back burner. We have so many things to do. Just getting through the demands of work, family life, chores, and a bit of leisure leaves little time for much else, sleep seems to draw the short straw. Add prepping to the equation and well, you get the drift: burning the candle at both ends becomes the norm rather than the exception.
During the sleep cycle, our bodies are in rest mode with not much to do at a physical level. During this rest mode, our immune system goes into high gear, fighting off the germs and bacteria that can lead to illness and disease. According to WebMD, a chronic lack of sleep has been associated with colds, influenza, diabetes, heart disease, mental health concerns, and obesity. Who wants that?
Additional Reading: Get Some Sleep! 7 Reasons the Well-Rested Prepper Will Prevail
The Final Word
It is somewhat of a travesty to think of our health as something that can abused over time knowing that a doctor at some point down the road will fix us up just like a mechanic will tune up the engine in our aging automobile. Doesn’t it make more sense to simply perform preventative maintenance on an ongoing basis?
A few good print resources to put you on the road to successful medical self care are The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way by Joe and Amy Alton, Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor by Cat Ellis, and the classic Physicians’ Desk Reference.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Note: This is a major update to an article posted in September 2012.
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Below you will find links to the items related to today’s article.
The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way: This book teaches how to deal with all the likely medical issues you will face in a disaster situation, including strategies to keep your family healthy even in the worse scenarios. It covers skills such as performing a physical exam, transporting the injured patient, and even how to suture a wound. This medical reference belongs in every survival library.
The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster: This is a slightly abridged version if you can call 328 pages abridged.
Spark Naturals Essential Oils: My first line of defense for minor ailments and illness is essential oils.A good option to start with is the “Health and Wellness” kit that comes packaged in a tin and includes a brochure with suggested uses for each of the oils. As kits, these oils are already discounted but as an added bonus, you get an additional 10% off with discount code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.
Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor: This is a fantastic book from fellow blogger, Cat Ellis. In it you will learn that natural remedies are not voodoo but rather, natures way of healing without the use of toxic chemicals and additives. Highly recommended. Also see: Prepper Book Festival 9: Prepper’s Natural Medicine.
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: I first became interested in aromatherapy and essential oils in the early 90s which was before they really became mainstream. I read every book I could get my hands on and dabbled at creating synergy’s (a combination of two or more oils that create a chemical compound that is greater than the sum of its individual components). My bible then, and even now, is this book.