Practicing Self-Care

IMG_1627I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care recently. Mostly because I’ve had to for work, therapy, and because a friend of mine coaches it. But, as usual, these thoughts have bled their way into every little aspect of my life. It’s a tape in a constant loop in the back of my head, whether I hear it or not, I know it’s there.

On a global level, self-care is extremely prevalent right now. Which makes sense when we’re locked up in our houses with mostly ourselves. We’re FORCED to care for ourselves.

On a national level, Americans in particular are being forced to learn or practice self-care to keep from drowning in the unrest of this country. Nations rise, empires fall, and America is showing its weaknesses, injustice, and prejudices to all. (Rhyme not intended). Whatever you think, believe, or fight for, I’m sure you feel the weight of the pain and anger in this country.

On a personal level, I’ve been going through quite a bit and it’s becoming painfully clear how difficult it is to be fully connected with my own mind and how poor I am at consistent self-care.

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What is self-care? Is it doing whatever you need to feel good? Is it doing what IS good? Is it yoga, hot baths, reading, wine, and face masks? Is self-care selfish?

My flimsy understanding is that, in essence, it is mindfully and deliberately taking the time to pay attention to you to ensure that you are being cared for by you. It’s an important part of our health. I see it as just as important as eating healthy, moving your body, connecting spiritually, and having good social interactions.

And it is not selfish or narcissistic. It is not “me first.” It’s “me, too.” It’s not “me instead of you.” It’s “me, so I can fully be there for you.”

I’m afraid that, specifically in Christian and patriarchal societies, self-care is seen as selfishness or even sinful sometimes, especially when it takes the form of pleasure. But isn’t it good when we are healthy, happy, and deliberate in our spiritual, mental, and physical lives? Pursuing pleasure doesn’t have to take precedence above all else. It is not always unhealthy or sexual or selfish.

If we are in tune with our body, if we are literate to the language of our minds and souls, then it becomes easier to understand what we need to be the best version of ourselves. Silence. Exercise. People. Chocolate. Veggies. Literature. Music. A massage. Boundaries. Journaling time. Candles. Worship. Nature.

I struggle to connect with my own heart. With ADHD, trauma, stress, and anxiety, my thoughts and emotions are often mist in my mind. I feel it, I know it’s there, but it doesn’t have a physical form that I can hold onto. When I try to give it words, it seeps between my fingers like fog in the morning.

So, it becomes necessary to find physical and creative forms of release and self-care. Here’s my list:

  • Journaling
  • Fiction/creative writing
  • Writing letters
  • Bible studies
  • Making candles
  • Making random stuff on Canva
  • Walking my dog
  • Squats and Yoga
  • Mindfulness in Movement
  • Cleaning
  • Reading
  • Duolingo
  • Baking
  • Bathing/brushing the dogs

And, if you’re not sold on the importance of self-care, turn to the Bible. Jesus practiced it too.

  • Many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus retreated from everyone else to rest alone or to pray by himself (see Mark 1:9-13, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:30-32, Mark 6:45-46, Mark 14:32-42).
  • Jesus took the time to sleep, even when it was inconvenient (Matthew 8:23-27).
  • Jesus encouraged others to rest, like when he told Martha not to be anxious about the housework, but to come and relax with him (Luke 10: 38-42; see also Mark 2:27).
  • When his Apostles were in the midst of a major transition (wrapping their heads around Jesus’ death and Resurrection), he fed them (John 21:5-14).
  • ETC

These moments were not included randomly. They’re included in Scripture for a reason. Jesus is the Way for us, and that way includes making time for self-care. The Lord loves us so much, he desires only our good, and this means stewarding our whole health.

I’m still not great at it. I’m lucky if I do one of the things on that list (deliberately with the goal of taking care of myself). But, I’ve been thinking about it. And I’ve been trying.

I want to be the best me I can be so I can be the best friend, daughter, sister, activist, and warrior and servant of God that I can be.

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