Self Care Is Not Selfish
Self-care is broad and personal and unique. It looks different for everyone. It can change with the seasons. It’s not one-size-fits-all. You can’t compare your needs to someone else’s and we can’t judge someone for caring for themselves in a different way than how we take care of ourselves.
Sometimes, self-care is saying no to things. Other times, it’s saying yes. It’s making the time for an epsom salt bath or those few extra minutes setting up your diffuser before bed. It’s unfollowing someone on social media who makes you feel inferior or unhappy. Sometimes, it’s deleting that dang app. Other times, it’s finally getting help with something you’ve been stuffing for much too long (in other words, self-care should not be a band-aid to a problem, a distraction, or an escape to something tough going on). It’s also listening to your mind, body, and soul when situations or relationships are not beneficial.
As a Christian, I can get hung up on scriptures (or people’s words) that I’m doing something wrong if I think of myself. For example, most of us have heard of the scriptures that say, “love is not self-seeking… do not give up meeting with one another… think of other’s interests before your own… deny yourself…”.I mean, ouch. The guilt is real! (Keep in mind, these are all applicable and important scriptures but we can't misconstrue them to make us feel guilty! We still need to have a heart that loves and serves others but we can't neglect ourselves along the way - what good would that do?)
After deeper study of the scriptures on this topic and going through my own personal health battles, I have learned that it is not only okay, but so incredibly important to take care of yourself. Let’s look at these together, shall we?
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
God wants us to withdraw to quiet places with him. There are times when you need to take a break from the day-in, day-out routine and be refreshed and rejuvenated with just God Himself.
Romans 6:14 (NIV) “…you are not under the law, but under grace.”
There are no rules that say you have to do it all. "Busy" is not a badge of honor. God knows our heart and that should give us confidence. He knows when we need a break and he wants that for us, especially when it brings us back to Him. Give yourself, and others, grace.
Matthew 14:23 (NIV) “…he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray…”
Jesus did it. How much more should we? I love that Jesus was refreshed by nature and by God!
Mark 2:28 (MSG) “Then Jesus said, ‘The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath’”.
Allow yourself to take advantage of a true, full day of rest. It was made for us because God knows just how important it is to rest.
Beyond the scriptures, I've been learning quite a bit in my studies to become a Nutritional Therapist Practitioner. Nourishing our bodies with real, whole foods is not the only way to take care of ourselves. Here is yet another reason why self-care is essential for optimal health:
In our daily lives, we are either in a sympathetic state or a parasympathetic state. When we’re at our job, or working out, or in traffic, our body is in a sympathetic state. When we’re meditating, reading our favorite book, or laying on the beach on vacation, we’re in a parasympathetic state. This is when our body is actually able to rest, restore, and heal itself. Pay attention to how you're feeling when you do certain things throughout your day. While we all can't spend our days on the beach, we can take intentional time out of our day to devote to ourselves.
If you feel like you’ve just had enough or you can’t catch your breath or you’re unhealthy and discontent physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually… stop. Withdraw to quiet places with God. Take care of yourself. Find those things that put you in a parasympathetic state and do them consistently. It’s not selfish!
Let’s not learn this the hard way, friends. It’s not a pleasant lesson!