Often when we think of self-care, we visualize images of massages, facials, spas, and luxurious bath products. We tend to view self-care as an indulgence. But it’s actually essential to our well-being. So, what exactly is self-care? It involves being mindful of our limits and needs so that we can ensure our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
I’m pretty good at self-care in my current season of life but that wasn’t always the case. I, like many women, tried to take care of everyone else and often neglected myself, as it was hard to fit anything else into my overflowing schedule. I worked full-time and had a husband and four girls to care for so you can imagine that things were pretty busy!
You have probably heard that you can’t give what you don’t have, and this is true when it comes to caring for others. If you are on a flight, you have to put your oxygen mask on before you can help others with theirs. Similarly, if you don’t take time to nurture yourself, your well will run dry and your ability to care for and help others will be diminished.
At its core, self-care is all about being good stewards of our bodies and our souls so that we can be our best selves. We are God’s handiwork (fearfully and wonderfully made), and He wants us to flourish and thrive, not be depleted and exhausted. Jesus prioritized self-care in his life as indicated below:
- Jesus often retreated from everyone else to rest alone or pray. (Mark 1:9-13, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:30-32, Mark 6:45-46)
- Jesus took time to sleep, even amid chaos. (Matthew 8:23-27)
- Jesus encouraged Martha not to be anxious about doing housework, but to come and relax with him as Mary had done. (Luke 10:38-42)
- Jesus surrounded himself with close friends who would fellowship with him and encourage Him.
When I speak about self-care, I don’t mean binging on Netflix while eating a chocolate bar and drinking wine although I must admit I do enjoy these things. Self-care emphasizes developing personal habits and practices to manage your health and reduce stress and anxiety. Let’s look at a few examples below:
You’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” It’s kind of true. Food is fuel, and we need it to function optimally. Eating well means feeding your body what it needs by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, watching your portion sizes, and limiting processed foods and sugar.
Incorporate physical activity during the day and exercise often, doing something you enjoy so you will stick with it.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep gives your body a chance to restore and regenerate. Seven to eight hours per day is recommended for most adults.
Give yourself space to connect with God
Try to spend some quiet time with God each day in whatever way works best for you. You could incorporate activities like reading your Bible, doing a devotional (Confession of a Hot Mess: From Mess to MESSage is a great one), journaling, spending time in nature, and praying.
Do things you enjoy
Frequently, set aside time to do something you enjoy such as talking to a friend, reading, dancing, hiking, or doing crafts.
Set and adhere to boundaries
You don’t have to say yes to everything! Figure out what’s important to you and say no to things that don’t fit these criteria.
Engaging in preventive care activities
Just the other day, I went to the dentist, got a mammogram, and went to the “mole patrol” (aka, Dermatologist). Many self-care habits are not fun, but they are critical to your health and well-being.
So next time you think you don’t have time for self-care, realize that you don’t have time NOT to practice it! How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 as it relates to self-care? If you are lower on the scale, it’s definitely time to make this a priority in 2022!
Leslie Speas is a local author who recently released the book, Confessions of a Hot Mess: From Mess to MESSage which is available on Amazon and Kingdom Winds. You can follow Leslie on her website at www.lesliespeas.com or Hot Mess to MESSage Facebook page.