The following is a continuation of my previous article, in which I introduced the topic of self-care and began to explore why this subject is so important in the fast-paced, demanding world of today. Simply put, self-care refers to measures you can take to prevent yourself from burning out. Most of us lead busy lives that include many responsibilities and stresses. In our efforts to succeed in life, we often prioritize activity and accomplishment over our own health. As we overextend ourselves, we cease to listen to our body’s warning signs until it is too late. When we reach this stage, we lose our ability to function. We burn out.
Fortunately, you can take measures to care for yourself so that you do not reach the point of burnout. In my previous article, I explained the importance of understanding your own limitations and making good use of your time. Once you have mastered these two crucial steps, you will be on your way to practicing holistic self-care. The following five practices will further enhance your ability to care for yourself and ensure that you do not reach burnout.
Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask Before Assisting Others
We have all heard this statement on the airplane explaining what to do in an emergency. What this means is that we can help another person more successfully if we “refill” our oxygen tank first. We can actually accomplish more and love more if we approach situations with a “full tank” rather than an empty one. Some people are ashamed of or see their needs as “bad,” but having need simply mean you are human. It is important to note, taking care of yourself is your decision; in other words meeting your own needs is your responsibility.
Remember that Self-Care is Not Selfishness
I often hear many Christians say self -care is selfish. However, self-care and selfishness are different. Selfishness focuses on one’s own needs at the expense of others. In their book , Boundaries, Cloud & Townsend state there is a different between stewardship and selfishness, “the first has to do with fixating on our own wishes and desires to the exclusion of our responsibility to love others” (p.135). Good self-care, or stewardship, realizes that taking care of oneself is necessary to better serve God and self-care is not the end goal, but is a means that better enables us to serve and give glory to God. In other words, self-care decreases stress and enhances your physical and emotional health so you can be your best self and succeed in the destiny God has for you.
Consider How Christ Models Self-Care
Even Jesus, the Savior of the world, needed to rest and refuel. Jesus was intentional with his time by listening and obeying the Father and only did what Abba asked him to do. Jesus stopped to eat, sleep and rest. He fellowshipped and also made time for solitude. Jesus made spending time with the Father a priority and stewarded his relationship with God. He spoke truth, but loved fiercely. He was honest and direct with people and said no to destructive and inappropriate behavior. God the Father even valued rest in that he rested on the 7th day of creation.
Put Your Hope in Biblical Promises
Jesus promises to bring rest and refreshment to the weary. 1 Peter 5:7 states, “to cast your cares upon the Lord for he cares for you.” Matthew 11:28-30 promises that, “God will give you rest and his yoke is easy and burden is light.” Psalm 23 promises, “God will refresh our souls and lead us to quiet waters.” Make resting in God’s presence and receiving his love and peace for the day a regular practice. God is faithful to refill our tanks and equip us with strength daily for the plans of the day.
Engage in Activities that Refuel Your Tank
Think about what kind of activities help you achieve a full tank and starting applying those activities in your life. Here are a few suggestions:
- Physical- yoga, walk in park, swimming, hiking, massage, nap, cook and eat your favorite meal, drink a healthy smoothie, plant a garden, take a bubble bath.
- Mental & Emotional- read a favorite book, sign up for a class at a local college, journal, write a poem, meet a friend for coffee, watch a favorite TV show, write a song, take photographs, go out to dinner with friends.
- Spiritual- pray, meditate, attend church or place of worship or listen to worship music.
Christian Counseling Can Help Prevent Burnout
If you are feeling overwhelmed or concerned about your health, you may benefit from talking to a qualified Christian counselor. A counselor can help you address issues that could be related to poor self-care like anxiety, grief or depression that troubles or plagues you. Counseling can help you locate your personal roadblocks to self-care and aid you in designing and implementing a self-care plan that is successful for you. To learn more about how a Christian Counselor can guide you to greater self-care practices, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be delighted to discuss the options and opportunities that are available to help you take care of yourself everyday, and together we can discover God’s plan to keep you healthy, happy, and whole.
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