PEOPLE who take control of their health could hold the key to tackling the rise of chronic illness, a study shows.
Chronic illness affects one-in-two Australians. A Mitchell Institute study says health organisations are integrating self-care into the system to prevent and manage diseases.
The study results were made public as part of International Self Care Day, which is observed on July 24.
Horsham's Des Lardner's Organic naturopath Emily Grieger said self-care was vital.
"It's not just to take care of themselves with food; but also making sure that they have a good positive outlook and looking after their spiritual health as well," she said.
"On a mental-emotional level, neuroscientists say that understanding gratefulness can enrich your life, connecting with other people, injecting some laughter and social connections with others is important for longevity. It is also important to reach out and find services where you may be struggling."
Mrs Grieger said it was important to acknowledge the need of self-care.
"People tend to get very busy - particularly women. We do a lot for other people and tend not to care so much for ourselves," she said.
"We don't see the signs that maybe the wheels are falling off a little bit, or maybe we are not up to speed. Those early signs can give us an indication that we need to slow down and implement something to help de-stress and improve our well-being. We need to look after ourselves, to be able to look after other people."
Des Lardner Organic craniosacral therapist Heidi Laursen-Habel said people needed to incorporate self-care in their schedule.
"It doesn't have to be a full hour of yoga - it could be just five minutes while waiting somewhere. It could be a little bit of stretching, exercise or meditation. It all adds up," she said.
"It slowly becomes a habit and then it's easier to manage."
Mrs Habel said despite a perception country towns offered a more relaxed life than bigger cities, stress levels in regional areas were often higher.
"Most of our population are farmers and we do have drought one after another. Everything relies on the weather and often the weather fails, so there is a huge amount of stress in the rural population," she said.
"When the husband gets stressed, the wife gets stressed, and then the kids gets stressed. It's a really bad flow-on effect."
Herbalist and pharmacist Des Lardner said stress could affect the whole body with gut problems, breathing disorders, skin conditions, weight gain and immune system weaknesses.
Mr Lardner said going "back to basics, like the old times" could make a difference.
"Traditional society understood it really well. They were right into support, talking and sitting around the fire. But we don't have fires anymore ... we sit around and watch the television - and there are stressful situations all over the world," he said.
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