We live in a supercharged, sensory overloaded world. The amount of energy it takes to make it through the day is INSANE! Everyone is wearing a variety of hats: wife, mother, executive, teacher, PTA member, cook, art enthusiast, stay-at-home mom, career mom, soccer mom, taxi driver, lover, friend, counselor, leader, bookworm, student. This list could go on FOREVER, because women are known for their many job titles and the massive load of responsibility that each of them carries.
So I have a really important question to ask you. It is a question that causes us to get defensive and answer with the list of hats we are currently juggling that become the very reason we use to think that we can’t wear the one that will truly help us ROCK every other hat in our closet!
How often do you wear the hat of self-care?
That was a hat that I didn’t even own for many years. I put anyone and everyone else’s needs before my own.
After my body revolted against me with a complete adrenal blow out, I finally took the hint. It was time I began the journey that I had felt the Lord gently nudge me toward a million times.
I began the journey of learning to love myself. All parts of myself: my mind, body, soul, and spirit.
You don’t have to wait like I did. You don’t have to wait for your body to just give out on you. You can begin that journey now.
Looking back, I can see so many times when the Lord was trying to teach me the importance of caring for myself, but there always seemed to be something or someone that took my time, my space, my energy. I often felt guilty if I did anything just for me. At night I would go to bed exhausted and often wake up the same way. All my minutes were already assigned. How could I be so selfish to take those minutes and do something other than the long list staring back out me? The list of duties and responsibilities (some that were real and others that I allowed society to put on me) sucked up all my time. Even though I felt the Lord, on many occasions, nudge me about the need to care for my body, I just couldn’t find the time.
Fast forward to three years after my body gave out (which was just a manifestation of what was going on in my soul). I have learned a lot about self-care. I now understand that if I don’t tend to my own self, if I don’t love my body and care for it, love my soul and tend to it, love my spirit and nurture it — anything that I give away (my time, energy, love) is not authentic and not real love. You can’t give something you don’t possess, and if you do not spend the time learning what self-care is, self-love looks like you can’t lead others well because you are leading them to a performance based love that shows them to work harder to receive what they need.
Self-care is NOT:
Laziness. I have to utilize my time management skills like never before so that I can find the time I need to tend to my body, spirit, and my soul.
Selfish. Self-care is about becoming whole so that you can love wholly. It is not selfish… people that try to lead other people who do not practice self-care are leading those people down a path of destruction.
Easy. Learning to love myself, taking the time to know myself, and understanding what I needed took a tremendous amount of courage and vulnerability.
How I approach self-care.
I think of self-care as self-love. Each day I ask God to help me understand what I am lacking, or where needs the most love. I think of myself as a three part being (1 Thess. 5:23): spirit, soul, and body. So every day I am INTENTIONAL about feeding each one.
I spend time in communion with The Lord to feed my spirit. Sometimes that is through prayer, worship, studying, or going for a walk and enjoying His creation.
Cultivating love for your soul (mind, will, and emotions) and for your body can be a difficult and painful process. The way I tend to my soul is by learning about healthy ways to cope with life and how to deal with past pain. I spend time meditating on the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5) and I am very mindful about manifesting that fruit in my daily life. I am intentional about practicing gratitude and appreciation. I laugh. I breathe.
Caring for my body has been a long process for me (this is not about weight; rather, about loving your body). I practice acceptance of where I am and I am intentional about releasing any and all judgments I make against my body. (It has taken a while to get to this point) I think about what I am doing and if that activity is serving my body well. I walk more, I bought a bike, I exercise, I eat better. Again, I am being intentional about what my body needs. I still eat cake, but I try to just eat a piece: not the whole thing. I don’t deprive myself, but I am mindful about what I am feeding my body and whether or not that reflects self-love.
It is my prayer that we would all begin to wear the hat of self-care and that we would empower others to do the same!