The key takeaway from the last couple of months for myself has been as follows: we often take our wellbeing for granted and fail to realize how easy we have it. My dad has had high blood pressure and heart-related issues since he reached his fifties, but now that even basic medical care is not as available as it was prior to the pandemic, I fully understand just how important it is to prevent rather than cure.

My own so-called struggles with sugar cravings and the occasional patch of eczema during this stressful period pale in comparison to the stress my dad has experienced. Not being able to see his physician, to get the right prescription for his medication in time, and to simply go for a check-up, all of these and many other frustrating circumstances have got me thinking about the value of health in our pursuit of happiness.

As I see from his example, and I can safely say my own as well, investing in your health in time in order to prevent setbacks, chronic issues, and lifelong turmoil can be one of the most valuable investments in your lifetime. In doing so, you foster your own independence, you listen to your body’s subtle cues, you practice mindful self-care every step of the way. Since my dad is too late to do that, I’m doing my best to learn from his example and from the current situation as to how exactly I can retain my health and protect my long-term wellbeing.

It’s the little things that have the greatest impact

It’s swapping out your coffee with herbal tea and switching from chips to carrot sticks for your afternoon snack. It’s about taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Taking the time to treat yourself to a bubble bath instead of staring at my phone for hours on end before I turn in. I’ve put my phone to better use and started using a meditation app to fall asleep more easily.

If you ask me: start small, but dream big. Find whatever habits you have in your life that might be slowly affecting your health in bad ways and replace them with healthful actions that require little effort. Over time, it becomes easier to commit to a more demanding plan.

Getting to know the human body

My main excuse for neglecting my health has always been that I’ve had to take care of my dad’s health first and foremost. After a few conversations with his palliative caregiver, who is a wonderful, hard-working woman always ready to help, I’ve become inspired to pick up some of her own habits.

I’ve noticed that in her free time, she is expanding her skills with an online course in ACLS to be able to provide even more advanced cardiac life support and care to her patients, my dad included. Her dedication is awe-inspiring, especially during the pandemic when she can only achieve a portion of her goals digitally.

I’ve decided to use my time during quarantine wisely and get acquainted with his health issues and the human body at the same time. I’ve learned about proper CPR procedures and the basics of emergency care. That way, I knew, I would feel more at ease knowing that should anything happen, I would be able to provide at least the very basic assistance. In a health crisis such as this one, knowing your nemesis and your options helps you retain peace of mind and stay more appreciative of the vessel that is your body.

I’ve started appreciating my mental health more

I rarely dare give out unsolicited advice, but since I have you here, reading my own views on life and health, here goes nothing: stop perceiving health as something that you need to fit into a pre-existing mold, and start carving out your own rules. I’ll never look like the ladies promoting protein shakes and weightlifting gear. If I try to fit into another person’s physique, I’ll always stay unhappy and defeated.

Instead, I’ve noticed that being healthy starts with being loved by no one else but myself. Stuck at home, worrying about my dad, and with limited social interactions, I’ve noticed my positivity and take-charge attitude dwindle and deteriorate. For my body to be strong, fit, and resilient, I need a mind, an engine that drives me. For me, personally, affirmations did very little. I decided to buy a yoga mat and laugh at myself at home until I do it right. But I’ve decided not to give up on myself, and to love myself through this process.

Recognizing my own negatives

For the longest time, I’ve avoided the key responsibility in my life, the responsibility towards my wellbeing. I would find the simplest excuses just to gobble on yet another batch of cupcakes “because I have so much work to do, I need the energy”, or I’d stay up too late to binge-watch my favorite show “because so what, I’m working from home anyway.”

For a person that’s healthy at their core, without those underlying issues to worry about, it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to stay healthy. The rest is just your inner ranting, telling you that you just can’t do it, or that you’ll start tomorrow. My healthy attitude towards health started the moment I abandoned those excuses and started reframing my own mind to be more “okay, let’s give this a go” instead of “nope, impossible, I’m not that gal.” Saying yes has perhaps been the most helpful way to embrace that healthy means happy and that I can actually choose that every day.

Life’s been fairly easy on me, save for the few setbacks one would expect in a normal, regular life. I find that being more grateful for such pure luck inspires me even more to push myself when I’d rather stay wrapped up in a blanket, completely neglecting my spiritual needs and my body’s need for motion.

I still take care of my dad the best way I know how, and my newly acquired skills help put us both at ease. But above all, the understanding that I now have of the human body and mind allows me to live up to my own expectations and refine them as time goes by. After all, it’s not about fitting the image of an Instagram model. It’s about waking up energized, feeding your mind and body properly, and appreciating your vessel and your substance every step of the way.

Sophia Smith is beauty and lifestyle blogger, graphic designer and a food enthusiast. She is very passionate about eco-friendly and green topics, sustainable fashion, and conscious business. Sophia’s other hobbies centre around her love for yoga, wellness rituals and living in balance with nature. She loves sharing meaningful content that inspires people and has covered topics ranging from organic beauty products and sustainability to self-care and mental health. Sophia has contributed to a number of publications including Eco Warrior Princess, Naughty Nutrition, Herbs Mother Earth Living, Sivana Spirit, Urban Naturale, Carousel, and Cause Artist. You can find out more about her writing by following her on Twitter @sophia_bri.

Image courtesy of Cliff Booth.