Monday, 10 December 2012

Don't we all self-manage? Active vs Passive self-management

After giving a talk to some nursing students, one student approached me and said that he had a long-term health condition (although he had never considered it as one, before the talk) which he thought he self-managed. This got me thinking about active and passive self-managing.

Although not obvious, self-management is really just common sense practical advice. Lots of us self-manage all the time in an informal way without doing EPP style courses. I self-managed before I did the course. But I was passively self-managing: I didn't think about it; it wasn't necessarily of the most benefit to me (mentally and physically); and it certainly was not optimal.

As an active self-manager, I am much more methodical in my approach to my illness. I action plan, problem solve, exercise, follow healthy diets, am aware of my emotions and try to manage them. . . .

I think the distinction between an active self-manager and a passive one is more than just semantic. I think it represents someone starting along the never-ending road of accepting their condition and taking responsibility for them selves. It is a learning process and I know I am still learning, but it represents an awareness that physical illnesses do have emotional, psychological and social side effects, but also a sense of not giving up and of regaining control.

This is not to say that everyone must go an EPP course and that passive self-managers are not really self-managing. Time also comes into it. Had I tired to convert into an active self-manager any sooner, it wouldn't have worked: you need to be in the right place to start accepting responsibility and understanding that the healthcare professionals don't have all the answers. But self-management is one of the very good examples where active wins over passive in my books!

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