Self-care plays a primary role in Whole Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cutting-edge holistic approach to health care for Veterans. Whole Health goes beyond injury, illness or disability by focusing on the big picture, not just one symptom or challenge. It affirms the importance of the relationship between Veterans and their community, including their providers, as well as the power of self-care strategies to strengthen physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. The goal of the Whole Health approach is to empower and equip Veterans to take charge of their health and live their life to the fullest at all points along the spectrum of health, disease and ability.
The Circle of Health
You can start your self-care journey by using VA’s interactive online tool called the Circle of Health to help you explore connections between your health and other key aspects of your life. Using this approach, you can discover areas of strength and situations in your life that could benefit from getting support. The Circle of Health focuses on eight components of self-care and provides resources to develop your self-care skills. Improving one area can benefit other areas and influence your overall physical, emotional and mental health.
- Mindful Awareness– You are the expert on your life, values, goals and priorities. You know what really matters to you; let that knowledge guide your journey to health and well-being.
- Moving the Body– Exercise gives you energy and strength and is also good for your mind. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of many health problems.
- Surroundings– Your environment can affect your health. Improving your environment starts with paying attention to the influences your surroundings have on your life.
- Personal Development– How do you spend your time and energy during the day? Do you spend time doing what matters to you most? These factors affect your happiness and also your health.
- Food and Drink– What you eat and drink nourishes your body and mind. Choose healthy eating habits that fit your lifestyle and keep your body and mind properly fueled.
- Recharge– Rest and relaxation can give you peace. Sleep is a pillar of good health. Find the right balance between being active and resting to improve your health and well-being.
- Family, Friends and Co-workers– Connections to family, friends, community and even animals can help reduce stress and improve your physical and emotional well-being.
- Spirit and Soul– When life gets difficult, where do you turn for strength and comfort? Connecting with a meaningful source is important, whether it be spiritual or religious faith, time in nature, enjoying art or music, or helping others.
- Power of the Mind– Mind-body practices tap into the power of the mind to heal and cope. Learn to use the powerful connection between your body, brain and mind.
You know what really matters to you; let that knowledge guide your journey to health and well-being.
Self-Care Is for Everyone
You have the power to impact your well-being. Even if you’re not experiencing any current health problems, practicing self-care strategies can help you take control of your health now and build positive habits for life that may prevent illness down the road. Discovering the big picture connections between your health and other aspects of your life — not just how sick or well you are today — is the first step in living a healthier life.