I believe one of the things I love most about being a trainer for the Ontario Peer Development Initiative is, I learn more than they do every time I do the training. ( I do love learning)
As we move through this week I may share with you some of the things that I am learning.
Yesterday we were talking a lot about the importance of “Self Care” and how different people find different ways to look after themselves.
For years my attempts at self care were not very good. I hated the idea of taking a long bath (and still do), Living close to poverty for most of my adult life would not allow me to spend any time or money on things that might be considered “pampering” or “selfish”. I still find it hard to spend money on myself and when I do I suffer guilt pangs for weeks. If I spend money on new clothes I make sure I wear them till they fall apart because I have this value system which is based on cost per times worn. That is to say if I paid $10 for something I have to wear it at least 20 times so it only costs 50 cents per time. If I have been so bold as to buy something for $100 then by this standard I have to wear it 200 times to make it work the purchase. Often this means the item must last for 10 seasons so so I can wear it 20 times a year. Know that when I bought it the item was in style. I try to buy classic styles but once in a while I miss.
With this economy of self denial I have also gone without many things others may see as essential. Dentist appointments and eye exams may well be on the top of that list. These are things that do not fit in the budget of single parents who work without a benefit package. Even the luxury of good shampoo and regular haircuts feel like luxuries beyond dreams and indulging in them seems like waste and extravagance rather than self care.
The people I am working with this week understand this economy of the struggling. Many have stood in lines at food banks, and waited on lists for housing supports. When we talk about self care some look at us with blank stareL They thought self care was making sure they had enough groceries for their families and being certain to pay the hydro bill before they spend any money on themselves.
One thing about not having much and working at looking after your own needs is that you become very creative and learn to take joy in some of the simple things. Today I heard people talking about doing puzzles, going for walks, and baking as a way to relax. Gardening and canning may not sound like very relaxing things to some but to others getting your hands in the dirt and then making your own sauces and relish means a great deal. If you can do something you enjoy and save money at the same time, all the better.
There are many things we can do which bring joy and peace into our lives. I bring a little “tickle trunk” to class and it is full of puzzles, bubble blowers, fake mustaches and things to colour. Learning to play again is one focus of self care which we may have completely forgotten as adults. When was the last time you used a skipping rope or chalk on a sidewalk?
We talk about how to find resources that don’t cost much or are free. There are exercise programs which don’t cost a fortune and walking only requires the investment of a decent pair of shoes. (It’s not that hard to get your monies worth out of shoes if you walk six days a week.. If they last a year and cost a $100 then you have the cost per wearing down to about 32 cents.)
Recently I have found some things on the internet I enjoy which are free. There are all sorts of meditations on the net. You might have to listen to someone try to sell you something occasionally but they are often worth it. There are games to play that don’t cost and endless reading material.
So tell me. Beside vacations and going to the dentist regularly what are the ways you do things that take care of you and protect your peace? What does self care look like to you?