Musings on Self-Care 

There is a specific stereotype that rings through the mental health world (and around it) about self-care. You can read it in the title, of course. But if spending an wagonload of money is all you need to be kind to yourself, then how will those of us on limited income do it? Simple: you don’t need a wagonload of money to keep yourself healthy and functional (or even get that way). I have decided to redefine self-care to include things all people can do, even those of us with limited funds.

Self-care can include treating yourself to a relaxing bubble bath or retail therapy, but it can also include working out in the park or the gym. If I remember correctly, most Medicare Advantage programs have a fitness component. Mine happens to be Silver Sneakers. I wonder if there are fitness components to other healthcare plans? Anyway, I’m waxing on fitness, when physical health also includes eating right, which may include a little financial budget planning, I’m not going to lie, and taking care of your other components of health as well.

Let’s wax a little from personal experience, shall we? If I remember correctly, self-care can mean taking a hard number of medicines and vitamins, one or two at a time some days, in order to keep your body chemically balanced. I have had a hard time with taking my (currently) nine medicines and vitamins recently, but I know it is for a good cause: my own mental health. For me, knowing that I need them is tantamount to my success. On the flip side, if you’re having trouble with your medicine’s side effects, report them. I your new medicine is making you into a zombie, let them know. The good doctors will see what they can do and make adjustments, or even try something new. Also, be patient with the process. I cannot stress enough how much of a virtue and a benefit patience is. It helps while standing in lines; it helps while trying to figure out a new normal. Even the best of us need patience. I know it’s hard to develop; patience is grown slowly, not sprung up quickly. I should know; I’ve had to develop patience that way. But I’m not here to lecture.

Another way to practice self-care is spiritual practices. I’m not going to foist my religion on you, but spiritual practices are a great way to manage stress, get out of your head, and even practice altruism, which also helps in self-care. You can always pray and meditate, without any money needed to spend. You can always gather with a spiritual group, like going to church in my case. That always helps. I’m not here to lecture you on the “right” way, I’m just suggesting ways to care for yourself. (And in altruism, caring for others helps in caring for yourself, ironically.)

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If anyone wants to start a discussion on self-care tips, we can. I’d like to hear from you.

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