The Stages of Self-Care

Self-care is a fairly new term, but not a new concept. The way it used to be, so it seems, is that most people practised self-care only when they were sick with a cold or a flu. They would take a day or two off, load the sofa with blankets and pillows, set a box of tissues nearby, and binge-watch anything they could. These days, people seem to want to practise self-care all the time.

I have always tried to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of personal choices in my own self-care. I do take multi-vitamins, but pass on some of the more expensive vitamins and supplements. I feel that even though they may have good effects on my health, it just isn’t worth it if I’m spending more than $50 or so a month on them.

After vitamins, I look at my diet. I try to eat at least one fresh fruit a day and make healthy choices when I shop, like buying extra lean ground beef or low-fat yogurt. For some time now I have mostly stopped drinking coffee in favour of tea, not only because it is much cheaper and I enjoy it more, but also because studies have proven people who drink tea may have less of a chance of developing heart disease.

However, it can be tricky shopping on a budget. You practically have to bring a calculator and a magnifying glass because the labels and prices of many items are extremely misleading in most stores. If you buy 454 grams (one pound) of spaghetti for $2.89, are you really better off buying 900 grams for $5. Then, you have to think about whether or not you can use two pounds of spaghetti, or if you would prefer broad egg noodles, or whole wheat pasta. I try to do everything in more general terms than worry about each calorie, each gram of fat, and each gram of sugar. I just attempt to get all the four food groups in my shopping cart and steer clear of the more processed foods like bologna or sugar cereals.

The next major part of self-care for me is exercise and sleep. I know I shouldn’t do it, but I often like to take a nap in the afternoon. This almost always makes it harder for me to sleep, although the time I spend not being able to sleep I am able to work on my writing. I often have to avoid making appointments in the morning. The morning is often my favourite time of day because I like to get up early, head to Spinelli’s, and have my breakfast, then go for a long walk for any reason I can think of or make up. These morning walks which can go up to five miles are good for my body and soul.

The last, and perhaps most important, part of self-care I consider is the time I spend with friends and family doing things I enjoy, which is sort of a spiritual side of things.

The last, and perhaps most important, part of self-care I consider is the time I spend with friends and family doing things I enjoy, which is sort of a spiritual side of things. One example is that, until just recently, I never saw the importance of keeping a tidy living space until I realized it can be a lot of fun to have friends over to a neat and clean home to spend time with, watch movies, and just generally relax. I also like to go for walks with my dad, often in Mill Creek Ravine or in the River Valley parks. These are the last and most important parts of self-care. I would say even if a person is bed-ridden with poor health and a poor prognosis, they can be fulfilled and happy if they can interact with others and enjoy their company. Taking it one step further, I have meditation apps on my watch and on my desktop computer that guide me to clear my mind, focus, and feel stronger and happier in many ways.

So, basically, that is how I practise self-care. The funny thing is it still applies on days when I’m sick, when I just lay on my sofa and convalesce. It all really comes down to feeling good about yourself, and remembering that no one is strong enough or independent enough to deny the signs of your mind and body telling you to take better care of yourself, which of course can help anyone become happier, healthier, more productive, and even more fulfilled.

Leif lives in McCauley.

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