Our lives changed by an invisible virus. I cancelled my gym membership. I miss in-person fellowship at weekly Bible study. And I stay up into morning hours working from home.
How has your life changed since March 2020?
In all the craziness, our energy and inner peace might lack replenishment. We hear about the importance of self-care and we need wholeness now more than ever.
But how can we practice self-care in a world gone mad?
Here are three truths I’m learning in this season, so I don’t actually run down the street screaming, never to be heard from again.
Three Truths about Self-Care:
Truth #1: Self-Care is Body Care
Who has time for workouts when we can barely squeeze in working from home? But if we neglect our bodies, they rebel.
We feel achy. Depressed. Our brain fogs.
It’s like thinking our car engines will operate at top speed—but never changing the oil. At some point our engine burns.
Scripture refers to the human body in several ways, but one of my favorites is the image of the temple.
In the Old Testament, the temple housed the presence of God—his glory. And in the New Testament, the bodies of believers in Christ are described as “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
No longer is God present in one place;
now he is present in/with/through his people.
So, let’s take care of the temple of the Lord.
Here are a few general tips for body self-care care:
- Eat as healthfully as possible. And by healthfully, I mean generally. We want to minimize stress. Make sure to drink lots of water, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and take in a steady dose of protein at every meal, if possible.
- Exercise daily. (And let’s be honest. This one I need help with). My goal is to raise my heart rate for at least 30 minutes a day. Whether we get help from a You Tube video, jog around the neighborhood, or chase kids in a tickle war, we need to take care of our heart health.
- Get enough sleep. (Okay, okay. I need help with this one too.)
- Keep clean. At home for days on end? A regular routine of showering and grooming can help our physical and mental health.
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Some of us spend an exorbitant amount of time obsessing in how we look, under the guise of self-care. Doing so can quickly morph into a fixation with body image.
When I talk about body-care, I am not talking about body-image. I am talking about daily/weekly habits that promote long-term vitality and ward off disease.
Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. And when our bodies feel good, that sense of physical wellness affects all other areas of our lives. We honor God when we take care of the bodies with which he has gifted us.
Truth #2: Self-care is Life Rhythm
Are you feeling like life is a bit out-of-whack? Then maybe establishing a life rhythm can help.
We all have daily rhythms. Wake up. Roll out of bed. Brush teeth. Brew coffee.
We live in rhythms that form us and help us flourish in our days (or unhealthy rhythms—but that’s another topic ).
Our life rhythm (some call it a Rule of Life) is a plan of how we spend our time to live in a way that fosters spiritual growth, faithfulness, and meaningful relationships.
Life rhythms also help us establish priorities and know what to say “yes” to—or “no” to.
A Biblical Model
When God created the world (Genesis 1), he set into motion rhythms. The sun rises and sets. Spring grows and winter rests.
Rhythm is so important that God made the weekly sabbath—a day of rest and worship—one of the ten most important ways to follow him (taking a day off is one of the 10 commandments).
We even see rhythm in the gospels. Jesus worked and he rested. He celebrated the Jewish festivals. He spent time in solitude.
If the God of the universe, made flesh, modeled the value and necessity of rhythm (daily, weekly, yearly), we know we probably need such rhythm too.
Establishing a Life Rhythm
When I feel out-of-whack, I sit down and ask myself general questions to discern how I need to structure my life.
For example, recently I felt irritated almost all the time. After lots of tears (I feel before I know why)—I discerned that I need more time of solitude. So, instead of placing my solitude time in the mornings, when my kids constantly interrupt because they love their mama, I scheduled my solitude time for after the kids to go bed.
Questions I sometimes ask:
- Do I have daily solitude with God and in the Word?
- Do I have enough or too much time allocated to work (income-producing and/or life management).
- Do I have a day of rest (no “work” that drains, a slower pace, and worship).
- Body care: Do I get enough sleep? What do I eat? Do I exercise?
- Spiritual community: Do I gather with other believers for worship and mutual encouragement?
- Do I make reasonable time for what I enjoy? (Creating? Watching sports? Reading? Going out?)
- Do I make time for other relationships beyond family and church community?
- How are the relationships in my home? Any schedule adjustments I need to make?
- Do I have unmet desires? If so, what are they? Are they legitimate? If so, how can I take one step toward fulfilling them?
- What are my top three priorities in this season? Does my rhythm reflect that?
What might your weekly life rhythm look like?
Do you need to add or take anything away?
Truth #3: Self-care is Soul Care.
We can spend a month in a spa getting rubbed, infused, and peeled—but still ache.
We can binge on Netflix and still feel depressed, grieved, and angry.
Genuine self-care includes soul care.
What is Soul-care?
Soul-care is tending to the health and wholeness of the soul.
What Does Soul-care Look Like?
1. Soul-Care starts with forgiveness of sin by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9, Romans 3:23, John 3:16).
Sin is anything that does not please God. And it works like carrying rocks in our souls—sin weighs us down.
Is there anything in our heart that we need to make right?
If so, we ask God for forgiveness and receive his grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
If this seems wonky or foreign to you—and you would like guidance in how to begin or renew a relationship with God, please talk to a trusted Christian that you know or send me a message.
2. Next, soul-care looks like practicing spiritual habits.
Basic spiritual habits, include:
Thinking about scripture (Psalm 1:2)
Prayer (1 Thes. 5:17)
Silence (Psalm 46:10)
There’s no perfection in soul-care.
There are days—okay, weeks—when I’m lazy with spiritual habits—and, guess what? The Lord still loves me.
But often when I feel overwhelmed or overly emotional—it links to neglect of my spiritual health.
The first habit I return to when my soul is unwell, is daily time focused on the Lord in solitude and taking in scripture—wherever, whenever I can make this happen.
Sometimes I can make time by arriving early to an appointment. Or opening my Bible after I tuck the kids in bed. Or waking up early—okay, that rarely happens any more. But you get the picture.
I can 100 percent trace my most sinful and broken times to a lack of daily solitude with God and failure to renew my mind with the truth of scripture.
We can have perfectly timed, balanced schedules, but if we are not practicing a deep soul-care relationship with God, we will never find soul-level rest and renewal.
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.St. Augustine
3. And finally, healthy soul-care includes living in authentic community with other committed Christ-followers.
This is the deep life-on-life fellowship.
We confess our sins to each other, pray for one another, talk about the hard stuff, wrestle with scripture, and encourage one another to follow Jesus.
It is wonderful to worship in service and listen to biblically rooted sermons, but the church is to gather, not only for input—but also for community.
And when we do, our souls receive the care they need to thrive.
In times of pandemic, soul-care can take creative forms. Back porch, socially-distanced fellowship, tail-gaiting parking-lot dinners—whatever! Form is less than function.
We all have gifts to offer one another in ways that spur each other on to growing toward God. We are one body with many members, as the scriptures say, and we need one another (1 Corinthians 12:12–27).
- Receiving God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
- Practicing Spiritual Habits.
- Living in fellowship with other Christ-followers.
Self-care is not selfish.
The more we practice habits of wholeness, the more we can be whole for others.
My dad used to say, “If you love someone, you take care of yourself.” And I agree. So, what part of self-care do you need? Body-care, life-rhythm, and/or soul-care?
What is something that refreshes you in your self-care routine?
I would love to hear in the comments.