Safety is about taking steps to avoid or reduce risk. This includes steps you take while working, driving, playing sports, and doing chores.
Prevention is about the choices you make each day regarding, among other things, tobacco, alcohol, and sexual activity. It is about getting the vaccinations, screenings, and tests recommended for your age. It includes self-care, which is about paying attention to how you feel and taking action when you sense something is wrong. This means being tuned in to your body and mind and realizing when something is out of balance.
You may not have considered this, but one of the most important things you can do for your wellbeing is to make wise decisions when you feel that something is wrong.
Dealing with symptoms
It is important to consider how best to deal with a symptom or complaint:
- Should you modify your lifestyle or adopt some self-care practices? For example, you might decide to take a break and do some deep breathing to relieve stress that is causing a headache.
- Should you self-medicate—take over-the-counter medicines to relieve your medical conditions or symptoms? For example, you might decide to take analgesics for a headache.
- Is it best to seek medical attention? For example, you might decide it is time to see a healthcare provider about recurring migraine headaches or because a headache is particularly acute and you sense something new is going on.
When you reflect on your choices in this way, you make better healthcare decisions and use your medical services more cost-effectively. It is important to know when and how to treat yourself at home and when you should go to the doctor.
Even when you decide to go to the doctor, you still need to practice self-care. You need to actively participate in treatment decisions, make sure you know your options, and understand what you need to do. Just as importantly, you need to follow up with the recommended treatments, making sure you complete your course of care.
In all, safety and prevention are about minimizing risk, making wise choices, and actively managing your health.