In our culture, we care about a lot of things. We care about the environment, the homeless, the national deficit and which celebrity is getting divorced/married or entering rehab… but how are we doing with self care?
Self care is misunderstood and is often confused with being selfish, there is a difference and it is huge!
Selfish as defined by dictionary.com: devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
Self Care is more the idea of being psychologically healthy. It involves taking the mind, body, and spirit approach in order to be healthy as an individual and in relationship to God and others.
There are many reasons why people don’t practice self care.
Often times when someone has experienced a significant hurt or life event, the way they choose to cope is by moving on. Their personal mantra is “Just keep swimming” like Dori in Finding Nemo. They live in denial and avoidance of the pain and are blind to the signs that their inner life needs attention.
For others, they were raised to believe that taking care of your own needs is selfish and self serving and so they learn to give out of a sense of martyrdom.
And thirdly there are the people who simply need permission.
Not too long ago I sat with a friend as she shared her struggles with me. This woman is amazing; she is generous, funny, smart and has the heart of a servant. As we talked about her struggle, I asked her what she does to take care of herself. She was dumbfounded.
My friend was so busy taking care of everyone else in her life that she had neglected herself. As a result, she realized she had some issues in her life that had been trying to get her attention, but she had been ignoring them.
What my friend needed was permission. She needed to know that taking care of herself and addressing the issues of the heart while seeking a healthy balance in life is permissible and acceptable as a follower of Jesus.
Our bodies are constantly sending us signals about what needs attention, much like a flashing “check engine” light on the dashboard of a car.
Just last week I experienced the shock of seeing the check engine light come on in my car. If there is one thing I remember my Drivers Ed. Teacher saying it is this: when the check engine light comes on something bad is about to happen so PULL OVER!
It is up to us to look under the hood and determine what areas need service. Generally speaking there are 3 components of self care.
I encourage you to take a self care inventory and identify the areas where you may be ignoring the warning signs that your heart needs attention.
Here are a few questions to get you thinking…
Are you tired, grumpy or stressed?
Do you take on more than you know you can handle on a regular basis?
Do you ignore the signs and symptoms of injury and illness?
Do you do something because you believe you have to or it is your duty – even when you don’t want to?
Do you feel guilty when you treat yourself to something special?
Do you think/believe/feel that you do not deserve to be happy in life?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I hope you see them as a flashing light on the dashboard of your heart. Pull over and allow the master mechanic to give you a tune up. He is certified and best of all – He is free!
If you are looking for a place to start try one or more of these suggestions as a starting place for self care. Let me know if there are other things you have found helpful in your self care routine.
Reading, Meditation, Exercise, Yoga, Volunteering, Journaling, Music, Talking with a friend, Counseling, Go for a walk, Gardening.