The value of “self-care”

It’s a buzz word in the mental health community, but it’s important for all of us. “Self-care” is an intentional activity or strategy done with the intention of taking care of yourself in the middle of difficult or stressful situations.

Are you overwhelmed? Are you drained, tired, or worn out? We all feel like this from time to time, and some of us start to feel like this most of the time. In the middle of all the busyness, how do you take care of yourself?

Taking Sabbath

In the creation story, God takes the seventh day to rest. In the 10 Commandments, he gives us the directive to also rest. To Sabbath. There are thousands of books, blogs, stories, and sermons about what Sabbath is, why it’s a commandment, and how to do it. But God’s Word is clear: we all need to take a “time out” on a regular occasion and step away from the busyness of life.

Our bodies operate in the same way. Without sleep, without food, without water, your body will physically start to shut down. God has created us to physically need a break, and we may try to skimp on the amount of sleep or the pause in our busy schedule for lunch, but we know that this can only go but so far. Eventually, our bodies will force us to rest.

Rest and refresh

What is the bare minimum for taking care of yourself physically? Sleep, food, and water. What about the bare minimum for taking care of yourself spiritually? Prayer, reading the Bible, and gathering with other Christians. But have you identified the “bare minimum” for taking care of your emotional and psychological health? What is it that refreshes you? Here are five tips on how to find a good self-care activity or strategy:

  1. Identify activities that are not mindless, but which actually refresh you. Binging on Netflix might feel relaxing, because your mind can shut down, but it rarely re-energizes us to feel better equipped, passionate, and ready to get back to the busyness.
  2. Set aside a specific time for the activity, and make sure your loved ones know what to expect, so that they can support you to follow through in the middle of life’s busyness.
  3. Think about if you are energized by time with other people, or if this needs to be alone-time. Some people are energized by an outing with a good friend, but others get more refreshment from a quiet bubble bath.
  4. Start small (and realistic) within your schedule: 15 minutes a day, or setting aside 1 hour a week, can go a long way if this is new to you and your family.
  5. Read our next blog post, about finding a “self-care” strategy, for more specific ideas!