Finding a “self-care” strategy

A few days ago, we posted about the value in taking care of yourself in the middle of life’s busyness, by investing in intentional activities or strategies that we called “self-care.” This is part 2, where we’ll provide some specific ideas on activities that might work for you.

First, take a look back at the five tips for finding a good self-care activity or strategy. You’ll want to select activities that refresh and re-energize you. You’ll want to think about your personality and what most energizes you, start small and realistic, and set aside specific time for the activity. Next, start brainstorming ideas! Use the lists below as a possible starting point.

Free activities

A common barrier in self-care is the financial cost. You want a fancy vacation and you only have money for a doughnut and cup of coffee. That’s okay! Find something that is realistic and still enjoyable for you. Here are eight free ideas for self-care:

  • Read a good library book – check out this book review list from World Magazine.
  • Take a walk in a beautiful area. The Florence Rail Trail is a great local option.
  • Call an old friend for a long chat.
  • Exercise and/or stretch. There are free apps like the Sworkit app or easy starting points like the Lifetime Fitness Ladder. (Consult your doctor before starting a fitness routine.)
  • Keep a journal and set aside specific time to get words and emotions out of your head.
  • Pray through a psalm.
  • Write a letter to a loved one (even if you never mail it).
  • Learn about something you’re interested in, through a blog, podcast, or app on your phone. Duolingo is a great option for learning a foreign language. Hear a podcast analyzing current news from a Christian worldview on The Briefing.

 “I only have 10 minutes” activities

What if you just don’t have time for much self-care? Even 10 minutes is enough time to intentionally pause and take care of yourself. Here are eight “I only have 10 minutes” ideas:

  • Meditate on a specific Scripture verse, with deep breathing and deep thinking.
  • Do 100 reps of a simple exercise, like jumping jacks (just not enough to need the added time of a shower afterward).
  • Toss the Frisbee with your child, spouse, or friend, or play fetch with your dog.
  • Take a long, hot shower or a quiet bubble bath.
  • Try one of the popular adult coloring books (even CNN recommends them).
  • Stand outside in the sunshine, without your phone, without a chore list, and think through a list of things you are thankful for.
  • Sing and dance your heart out to a silly pop song on the radio. It just takes a few minutes! Your kids might want to join you or the might want to laugh at you, but a long as you’re in the living room and not in the middle of the grocery store, they’ll be okay.
  • Make a cup of hot tea, sit in a comfy spot, and drink slowly.

Go for the big commitment

On the off chance that you do have some special spending money set aside, think about planning a vacation, taking a half-day off work for a mini-retreat, scheduling a massage, or joining a gym that offers Zumba or fun workout classes.

What if you have some extra time? It is possible! If you can make it work in your schedule, find a charity or cause that God has placed on your heart, and commit yourself to supporting that cause. Volunteer each week at a local hospital, an adult day center, or a homeless shelter. Join a committee to plan a fundraising activity for a cause that you care about. Use your baking talents to bake cookies or cakes for a church bake sale. Volunteering time can be meaningful and if done intentionally and in a realistic way, can be great self-care.

What might God suggest?

As we saw in our last blogpost, God specifically commands his people to set aside time for Sabbath. He knows that we need to take a “time out” and refresh our souls and our minds. Here is a look at some “self-care” strategies used or suggested in the Bible:

  • Psalm 100 suggests that we take intentional time to worship, praise, and thank God. This may be out loud, in community or when you’re alone, on paper or in your head.
  • Matthew 14:22-24 suggests that we follow Jesus’ example and go “up on a mountainside” alone to pray. Ideally, this happens every day in our quiet time, but setting side a weekly, monthly, or annual retreat time is a great idea.
  • Joshua 1:8 suggests that we “meditate on [the Book of the Law] day and night” to study and know God’s Word deeply, so that we can apply it to our lives.
  • Acts 2:42-47 suggests that we gather together to “break bread,” share life, and pray together. You might be able to plan a fun dinner party, host a small group, or even invite some friends over for a movie night with popcorn to encourage and love each other.
  • Philippians 4:8 suggests that we spend time learning about or focusing intentionally on things that are noble, right, pure, and lovely. This will influence the books we read, the people we talk to, the podcasts we listen to, our meditation on Scripture, and any other intentional focusing of our mind, thoughts, and hearts.