People are tired of being busy. We’ve been worn down by the “do-it-all” mentality and have experienced its negative effects. In response, the self-care movement has put itself forward: inspiring us to rest, take care of ourselves, and enjoy the little things in life.
Take care of yo’ self!
I really took hold of these ideas last summer. While working at a youth mission trip camp, I learned a lot about my limits. I realized I try to be self-sufficient and would rather work my tail off than ask for help. I learned very quickly that I had to rest: for my own good and for everyone else’s good!
The experience taught me a simple truth: Humans have limits. I think that’s partly why we need sleep, food, and water: these routines remind us that we aren’t self-sufficient! Taking care of ourselves is crucial, and we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
But I’ve also experienced the other side of self-care: the side that quickly becomes selfishness and laziness.
When I’ve practiced self-care in an unhealthy way, I’ve adopted a “me-first” mindset. And it makes sense, because the world is constantly telling us to indulge! We’re told to get a manicure, buy an over-priced coffee, or watch a season of Netflix, to escape our complicated, real lives for a few minutes. It’s easy to take things like these too far.
The anthem becomes “put your well-being above anyone else’s, because you deserve it, for goodness sakes!” There’s an overwhelming pull towards selfishness.
And I think that’s why Christians feel like they must resist self-care. In the fear of appearing lazy, we idolize busyness and effectiveness: even looking down on people who do take care of themselves. How many times have you heard someone laugh at the idea of sleeping enough or having an evening to themselves?
So, we see, there are two sides to self-care.
Why would a Christian do that?
All this information might feel overwhelming. You’re saying, “Great! One more thing for me to balance in my life.” I get it. But there is a healthy and Godly way to practice self-care, and I think it’s worth learning.
First, let’s review the “why.” Why do we need self-care? We have limits, but sometimes we try to become super-human: running about the world caring for others, doing our jobs, and serving God while ignoring basic needs and joys. That’s not a sustainable way to live or even to serve God, so we have to decide it’s not an option!
Even Jesus took care of himself. He rested, withdrew from the crowds, and most importantly, spent a lot of time in prayer.
Now, let’s establish the goal. There are a few things self-care should work towards: (1) a thriving relationship with God, (2) the capacity to serve others sustainably, and (3) our own physical health.
Jesus commands us to ‘love your neighbor as yourselves,’ which stems from the assumption that we do love and take care of ourselves! In obeying this, we are also showing love towards God. Self-care can work for the good of all three: God, others, and ourselves! This challenges the worldly anthem to simply do things for yourself and put yourself first.
It’s more about stewardship than indulgence.
How to actually do this thing
Now it’s time to make a self-care plan! This is where people will vary based on personality, season of life, and preferences, and that’s ok!
Start by thinking on this question: What do your soul and body need? Spending time with God (prayer + Bible reading) is our biggest need, so I’d encourage you to put that on your list first. Then, think of other healthy practices you need to prioritize. I prioritize getting 8 ½ hours of sleep, which may sound impossible, but I am seriously delirious the next day if I don’t. I also try my best to eat energizing meals and relax in some way in the evenings.
Additionally, think of small things that add both joy and rest to your days. Some of these things for me are reading, talking to my friends, doing creative stuff, and listening to podcasts. These small things present themselves as you go throughout a day. All we have to do is seize the opportunities!
So, that’s it! I’m glad to have learned about the many faces of self-care, and I hope this post hasn’t been too confusing. Honestly, no one will ever strike the perfect balance. Maybe some days you’ll be exhausted and busy and legitimately won’t have time for these practices. And maybe some days you’ll be able to rest and recharge for hours. That’s all okay! The most important thing is to follow God’s lead each day and seek his will and his rest wherever he takes us.
A few blog posts that helped me write this one :)
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!