Self Care 101


When I first started the process of tackling this post, I was at a loss for how I was going to say what I needed to say. It was one of those HOW DO I EVEN WRITE THIS AND WHERE DO I BEGIN moments. #melodramaalert 🐝

But after my Beauty 101 post and the sentiments I heard echoed about the deception/perception there is out there about Christian culture and the concept beauty, I realized that it's more than just beauty that people (Christians, I - me, culture) misunderstand and misuse. 

I'm talking about the ideas behind rest and self-care.

We've all seen the Pinterest boards and the body posi Instagrams, the photos of perfect lattes with captions that read, "Taking a me day", or "Self-care Sunday". We know that the concept of acceptance for yourself, your body, and then taking care of yourself (and your mental health) and that body are things that pop-culture psychology seems to grasp as vitally important. But I've seen a push back, especially in evangelical groups, that self care and regular rest are innately selfish and ultimately harmful - and don't have a place within a godly, god-fearing lifestyle. 

I think that's kind of stupid.

And before you email me - I get it. I really, really do. There can be a point when "me days" look more like wallowing in your own filth and being stagnant towards the act of life than they look like growing and becoming new. When it's more about selfishness and not wanting to deal, and ignoring the least of these than it is about resting and pouring in so you can pour out. Ignoring the problem doesn't help the problem. That's selfish. That's not self care. (don't for a second think I'm referring to those who struggle with mental illness and are at a place where they can't even bring themselves to deal. That's another post entirely.)

But protecting your spiritual time, protecting your time alone, protecting your time with family and friends and doing small things that bring you joy and help you bask in God's hesed for you is at its very core "self care". And it's so important that we need a day every week to rest and just be

When I don't take time for myself or when I'm overwhelmed by my life and who I've been lately, I can't just continue on like I'm living the way God has called me to. It means I literally cannot do the things I'm called to. That means it's time for a break. Time to collect myself and focus on where I'm at and where I'm going. Not shove it down and do more. I learned this lesson a year ago and I wrote about it in It's Been A Horrible Summer and I'm Really Embarrassed.  

I get very concerned when I hear sentiments under our evangelical umbrella that glorify being busy above all things. It sounds just like everyone else. We encourage and blaspheme each other beyond our means. And then we ridicule exhausted moms, burnt out singles, overwhelmed teens - waving labels like "lazy millennial" or "entitled" above the heads of those who are worn by lifestyles not created for rest, and even the back-breaking heart break that comes with servanthood. Or, we do that sneaky thing when we say, "Yeah, you look like you need a break!" or "You don't look like you." to their face, and then gossip about why they don't have their act together behind their back. It's poison. I'm over it. 

There's no vanity wrapped up in getting your mind and heart right. At least there shouldn't be. Let's create compassion and an awareness for people who need to take a break or get some time to sort themselves out. Therapy does not mean you are a sorry excuse for a human (you're probably a better human for it, honestly). Sleeping in after serving for an entire summer doesn't mean you're lazy (in fact, when I'm serving with students this summer I'm going to make sure that's one of the first things they do when they get home). Cancelling doesn't make you unreliable if you said yes too many times that day. 

A culture who rests in a healthy and constructive way is a culture that prioritizes spirituality, community, and health. 

A cup of tea in the middle of a stressful moment can work wonders. Rest looks different to some people than it does for others. For me it looks like working out or writing or reading a book or cooking. That doesn't make my rest more valuable than someone who takes the day to sleep in a hammock. 

Here are some ways that I've found make my heart less judgmental towards my own self and others who desperately need some time to take care of themselves;

  • My kind of rest may not look like your kind of rest. Find your kind of rest and create a tangible routine.
  • You can't always tell when someone needs a break.
  • You never know what's going on behind the surface. Check in with yourself and those close to you, the people you work with, the people you love, and learn the signs of burn-out and anxiety.
  • Your first reaction should be that of support and compassion (the hard-hitting truth comes when needed - often later and at an appropriate time) 
  • Ask yourself why the act of self-care (or rest) is embarassing or inconvenient to you. Is it pride? Are you trying to do everything on your own? Do you hold yourself to a standard of grace that you don't extend to others? Okay I'm not gonna ask anymore questions. But you get the jist.

Taking care of your body, your mind, and your soul is a vitally important act. Some of us (me, definitely me) need to schedule that time in because it doesn't come naturally. Others already have a rhythm of rest built into them - and it shouldn't be a "habit that we break" but rather a strength that we encourage to be constructive and fulfilling. Saying "no" is not a sin. We're an extremely busy culture, and its kind of gross. Learn to appreciate rest - you need it.


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