Self-Care and Health Care

October 21, 2021 -  Defence Stories

As Canadians, we are blessed with one of the best health care systems in the world.  We have well-equipped hospitals, high quality health care professionals, top notch rehabilitative services, world class diagnostics equipment, outstanding public health programs, and access to a vast array of medications and treatments.  The icing on the cake is that most of these things are available to every one of us at no cost.

Despite all of the above, there remains a limit to what any health care system can do for its people.  We still do not have cures for many ailments such as: heart disease, stroke, chronic pain, diabetes, mental health problems, osteoarthritis, HIV/AIDS and even the common cold.  While we are getting better at managing many of these problems, a significant number of people continue to suffer from the consequences of these conditions.

This is why it is so very important that every Canadian realizes they have a very important role to play in maintaining or improving their own physical, mental and spiritual health.  We call this “self-care.” Self-care has nothing to do with buying a sports car, owning an expensive watch or having a closet full of designer clothing. Rather, the concept of self-care calls upon every Canadian to recognize that the little decisions they make every day, play a big role in their long-term health and well-being.  Decisions such as getting enough sleep, eating an apple instead of a chocolate bar, buckling up your seat belt, stopping smoking, wearing a bike helmet, reaching out to an old friend for a chat, taking your dog for a daily walk, following the low-risk drinking guidelines, using a life jacket when boating, using sunscreen on sunny days, and wearing a face guard when you play hockey – all represent self-care, which contributes to your well-being.

Self-care has always been important. Yet the pandemic and our attempts to reduce its spread have highlighted to us all how much more important self-care is than perhaps we had thought before.  Strengthening the Forces, the CAF’s health promotion program, is primarily focused on enabling people to take more control over their health and well-being.  Over the next few months, Strengthening the Forces will publish a number of articles on self-care and I encourage you to read these articles as they will provide you with some valuable strategies you can use to enjoy your best life.  Taking better care of yourself by making mindful choices to maintain and improve your health will pay back big dividends in terms of mental, physical and emotional well-being… and you are worth it.

Major-General J.G.M. Bilodeau
Surgeon General

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