This year has been difficult. I have taken on extra work. I have struggled with university. I am emotionally drained by several deaths in my extended family. I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. So after submitting my last assignment for my module and in the midst of heading off to soup run, I realise something. I need to take care of myself more.
Of course this is a given. Of course you should take care of yourself. However, a lot of the time I don’t. My brain soaks in stress and stores it for explosives later. I don’t exercise enough. Sometimes I forget to eat and that makes me sick. I get caught up in a culture of busyness that I forget to stop and do the basic things. Go to bed early. Have a sandwich. Read that book. Ask for prayer. Ask for help. Maybe, I admit to myself, I need a little self-care.
Note that I said self-care and not self-love. I’m a bit weary and wary of the term self-love (you can read why here and here). However, taking care of myself when I’m exhausted is good. It is a way to show respect to not only myself but to the Creator who made me. So without further ado, here are three ways you can take care of yourself.
You can take care of yourself by aiming to be healthy. The last few months my health has suffered because of stress. So one area of self-care for me is to be healthy. I’m attempting small steps. I opt for walking instead of driving. I’m attempting to be more consistent with exercise (anyone want to be my exercise buddy?). I write myself a reminder to make and bring some lunch to work. I take a water bottle with me everywhere. Also, not stressing out may help a little.
You can take care of yourself by engaging your brain and not turning it into mush. Reading varied and interesting books, philosophical conversations with friends, creative outlets in writing and adult colouring, this all causes my brain to engage. I want to flex it like a muscle. Now I really like TV and movies. I love watching Netflix in the evenings and that’s not bad. However, it is a balance between information and relaxation. This means taking breaks from social media and technology. This means using my resources in order to not sink deeper into bad mental illness like anxiety or depression.
You can take care of yourself by realising that life isn’t about you. Ironically, I can’t take care of myself unless my focus is on Jesus, who He is, and what He has done for me. Reading my Bible, singing songs, taking time to enjoy nature, praying, finding glimpses of hope in ordinary circumstances, this is the practice of spiritual self-care. It is the practice of realising who I am. Often this kind of self-care doesn’t come from ‘me-time’. It is the act of caring for others and putting others first that takes me closer to a revived and refreshed soul than a sick and exhausted one. This self-care has little to do with me. It’s more of a complicated process of constantly reminding me what life is about; and life has always been more than just me.
This is what I’m attempting to get better at anyways. You take care of yourself too.