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Self-care is a buzzy word. It’s way too annoying. For one thing, it means different things to different people. It means something different to women than it does to men.
For example, for my husband, he would consider self-care skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, and hunting. Self care for him means activity not just sitting around doing nothing. For other men, it might be having watching a football game with the guys.
For me, it could mean working on a DIY project, going out for lunch, or maybe a long walk. For other women it might be a spa treatment, getting their nails or hair done. We’re all different in what we consider self-care. Some people want others around, others want to be alone.
But just like the announcement on an airplane, we need to put the oxygen mask on our selves first before we put it on someone else. It really IS true that we can’t care for others if we don’t care for ourselves first.
So what is self-care anyway and when do we need it.
First of all, what is self-care?
Self-care means just what it sounds like, caring for self. If used only as needed, it’s not selfish. But it’s also not an excuse to neglect one’s responsibility or manipulate anyone. It includes the mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of life as explained here.
And, as already said, it’s different for different people. Self-care, however, needs to be examined a little closer.
Why are we hearing so much about it now? Twenty years ago, maybe as recently as ten years ago, it wasn’t even a thing. So is it because we’ve turned into self-indulgent people or is it because life is so much more hectic.
I think it’s probably a little of both.
Is life more hectic?
I do think we are more self-indulgent than from years past. We have more, we expect more and when we don’t have it, we feel stressed. After a certain amount of stress, whether externally caused or not, we feel overwhelmed and that’s when self-care comes in. We know if we don’t do something for ourselves, we will fall apart.
But is life really more hectic for external reasons, or do we bring on stress ourselves? It is my opinion that we bring much of our stress on our selves. We start our day without God and then wonder why we feel so stressed. Stress is antithetical to peace. But sometimes stress IS from external causes.
When my mother was sick, my stress level was high. Those of you who care for ailing parents know what that feels likes. Or when caring for anyone with health issues. But these are not really new problems. So why does it feel like it is?
It could be because we have so much information now that trying to sort through it all and make the right decision is stressful all by itself. We feel if we screw up, we’re a failure. And that applies to almost every decision we are confronted with. There was a time, we just knew intuitively what to do. But now we’re unsure. We’ve learned to distrust our own good sense.
But knowing all this doesn’t necessarily make a difference when we’re right in the thick of things. Maybe we need to just sit back and take a few minutes to think things through before we rush to the “experts.” We’ve lost our ability to think for ourselves.
When self-care is necessary.
Only you can decide when self-care is necessary. And only you know what it needs to look like. I have a friend whose self-care means taking on a project. My mother could never understand why this friend had to always be busy. But as I explained to her, this was how she coped, or better said how she took care of herself.
So when do we need to put ourselves first?
The problem with that question is that it assumes you know when that is. That isn’t necessarily the way it works. Usually by the time we realize we need it, we’ve already passed self-care on the way to falling apart.
Will be different depending
How your self-care looks from one day to another or one week to another is going to depend on your circumstances. On a really busy week, you may need time for yourself. On a week that’s been tedious and boring, you may want to be around people. The point is to be creative and think through what are your real needs.
Self-care is something we should schedule on a regular basis. I don’t know if that’s weekly or monthly for you. For me, it’s weekly. I write, read, and research every day for my next book. I take off Thursdays to visit my friend and work on some DIY projects. It provides much needed relief.
Another woman I know tries to hit a bookstore once a week or pick up a Chai at Starbucks. Or maybe spend some time in the library. She chooses some alone time.
Someone else I know stops everyday at three for tea.
However, self-care is not destructive.
Self-care is never destructive . If you are doing something that harms you it is NOT caring. Don’t even try to tell yourself it is. I’m afraid many people use it as an excuse for self-indulgence. It’s not the same thing at all.
Does it even need to even need to be said that self-care also never hurts anyone else, either?
Self-care as a Christian
There is no conflict between being a Christian and caring for ourselves. In fact, Christ is our example. He regularly took time away from his ministry to spend time alone. So that settles that I think. And, of course, there are all the verses that suggest we “lie down in green pastures”(Psalm 23), “be still and know I am God” Psalm 46:10), “keep the Sabbath holy”Exodus 20:8).
Don’t be afraid to look out for yourself.
God bless and have a good day.