Is Self-Care Selfish?
If you are actively involved in the abolition movement you've likely heard about self-care. It is defined as:
"The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress." - Oxford Dictionary
For those of us engaged with the world and in capacities of responsibility for the hurting and broken, we often forget ourselves. If we or our families are sacrificed on the altar of ministry, we aren't glorifying God. There's a sermon there, but I'll leave it at that for now.
As a practical person, I am not about to list a bunch of ridiculous things the average person could not afford like a vacation, spa day, etc. Although those are great things and you should do them if you can. What I want to focus on is the true definition and lifestyle of self-care. Here are 3 ways you can focus on your well-being without breaking the bank or giving too much time.
Self-care is proactive. In my personal opinion, and many people's professional opinions, it should be integrated into your life and start first thing. When you start your day with yourself in mind, it tends to remain at the forefront. This doesn't have to take longer than 5 minutes if you don't want it to. It could be as simple as stretching, deep breathing, name 3 gratitudes, ONLY drinking your cup of coffee, do a personal inventory in a journal, etc. Whatever you choose to be all there. That's right, this is a no phone zone. This is a time to get centered and in tune with yourself which helps you hear the voice of God better and serve the world so much better.
Bonus points if you take 5-15 minutes mid-day to check back to do this again!
Simple self-awareness goes a long way. To acknowledge how you are feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally. It's hard to take care of yourself when life is so full you don't even have time to take 30 seconds for a little self-scan. I've seen crusaders literally collapse because they didn't take the time to eat. Listen, if you have a lot to do that's job security. There will always be more work, needs, crisis, but there will only ever be one you. No one is going to criticize you for sleeping, eating, and resting. Those are basic human needs, partake in them or suffer the consequences. The choice is yours.
Don't worry. I won't make you go climb a mountain unless that sounds refreshing to you. Going on excursions is about breaking your normal pattern to gain perspective and refresh your senses. This can be as simple as visiting a coffee shop you've been wanting to check out. I would schedule at least 30 minutes and try to do this weekly if you can. Do your best to shut your brain off from work and personal life problems. Simply sit and absorb. Bring a journal and leave your phone and laptop or put them on airplane mode if you prefer to use them as to eliminate digital distractions. I say that because we don't usually give ourselves idle time which is the time your brain needs to process. This is why many great ideas happen in the shower because many times it is the only time we are not thinking about anything else but the simplicity of washing our hair.
These are really simple ways to daily or weekly take care of yourself that shouldn't be underestimated. If you can splurge on the bigger things like a weekend getaway, digitally unplugging, a two-hour massage, or an epic date night than go for it! I want to challenge you to give these things a try for at least one week.
Lexie is a graduate and guest trainer of Elevate. She received a BA in Psychology from Lee University and currently resides in Nashville, TN as an active member of The Belonging Co. Church and Marketing Coordinator at Dave Ramsey Solutions.