Is it okay for Christians to focus on self-care? And if so, how can Christian leaders simplify their self-care to make it practical and doable?
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Self-care often gets a bad rap in Christian circles, but I believe it’s not only okay but also wise for Christian leaders to invest in their self-care. Because when we do not, we are more prone to the risks of burnout, compassion fatigue, and becoming overworked.
In this episode of our Simplify Series, I’m sharing with you why self-care, when viewed in the right way, is okay for Christians. Plus I’m giving you 3 steps to simplify your self-care as a Christian leader.
What Self-Care is and is not, and why it’s Okay for Christians
Some people, especially Christians, don’t like the term self-care. They feel it implies being selfish or focusing on loving yourself. But I believe we can see a different perspective in Scripture.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’” – Mark 12:30-31
From these passages, it seems that self-care…
- Is a way of honoring and loving God. By taking care of our body, our mind, our heart… we are better able to love God.
- Allows us to better care for and love other people.
We can also see that God built in self-care, in a sense, through creating a regular day of rest, or the Sabbath. We’ve talked with some of our guests about this in the past, but Sabbath is invented by God, not us!
God knew we would need REST from all the things we are doing in our everyday lives. And Jesus, during his ministry, took time to go be alone and to pray.
So the purpose of self-care is not just about being selfish and doing whatever you feel like. Instead, the purpose is really about investing in and caring for the one life you’ve been given so that you are able to love God and others.
What Self-care is NOT:
- Self-care is not about doing whatever feels good at the moment
- It’s not about focusing on yourself and what you want
- It’s not about ignoring real issues or just leaning in to distractions
- It’s not always easy!
Other perspectives about self-care and Christianity:
- Self-Care and Self-Denial
- What does the Bible say about the self-care movement?
- Should Christians “Self Care?”
My goal for this episode is to help you move forward as a Christian woman leader so that you don’t end up burnt out and completely unable to love or lead anyone else. It happens in ministry, as we discussed in Episode 81 with Laura Howe, and it happens in other contexts as well.
3 Steps to simplify your self-care:
1. Shift your Mindset about Self-Care
For many of you, you are looking at self-care as something that you simply can’t do, you don’t have time for, or that is a luxury. Here are three things you need to believe in order to shift your mindset:
Self-care is stewardship, not selfishness
Let’s think of self-care as a way to be good stewards of what God has given us: the bodies, the minds, the emotions, the time, the resources.
By taking time for self-care, you’re telling God: Thanks for giving me this body, this mind, this spirit… I’m going to do my best to care for it so that I can honor you.
Self-care should be restorative, not depleting
I mentioned earlier a few things that self-care is not, and one of those is that it’s not always easy. However, self-care should be something that restores you and helps you be a healthier version of yourself.
True self-care helps to restore rather than deplete us.
Self-care should be proactive rather than reactive
Sometimes we wait until we are totally overwhelmed and stressed out to make self-care a priority. When you do this, self-care starts to feel like it has to be something BIG… a week-long vacation in the Caribbean, a full day at the spa, or a weekend at home all to yourself with no one else around.
And let’s be honest: when you start to feel this way, that’s when unhealthy habits can start to creep in. When you are reactive, your definition of self-care might get skewed, and it might turn into something that is doing more harm than good.
What I want you to do is to try and minimize the amount of times you start to feel that way. Instead, let’s be proactive about our self-care.
2. Determine what Self-Care Means to You
You’ve probably heard and read lots of things about self-care. And maybe you’ve seen lists from people with the 50 things they do in the morning before they start their day that they consider to be self-care.
And if that’s you, awesome! More power to you. But here’s what I’ve come to realize over the past several years: what self-care is to me may not be self-care for you! So you’ve got to figure out what is actually good for you.
To do this, start by brainstorming and making a list of the kinds of things that are self-care for you.
Here’s some tips to get started if you’re not sure what to put on your list:
Try to move away from the idea that self-care has to mean a massage or a weekend away. Get creative with what it will look like for you.
Perhaps it’s lighting a candle while reading a book before bed. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite music or dancing in the kitchen with your kids while making dinner.
Get Back to What You Love
Another way to make your list is to think about what you used to love as a kid. Consider what you used to love doing as a kid that you haven’t allowed yourself to do as a responsible adult.
Maybe it’s coloring, making necklaces, drawing, writing, or playing basketball. It could be anything really. The point is that sometimes we get away from things that actually are really good for us because we think that everything else is more important.
But in the end, if we make time for these things, we’re going to be healthier and better able to manage our other responsibilities.
Dream a Little
If you are still stuck, dream a little. Let go of what you know your current reality is and start dreaming.
What would you LOVE to do if you had an afternoon free?
What would you do if you could set up your ideal schedule for an entire week?
You’re likely not going to be able to do this, but I want you to dream about it and maybe write it down.
If you still need some help brainstorming and coming up with your list of ideas, grab my free Personal Wellness Worksheet. This will help you uncover your top 3 ways to de-stress and your one personal wellness habit you’d like to incorporate into your life.
Choose a daily and weekly self-care activity
Once you have your list of ideas, now try and identify a few of these things that you’d like to do on a daily or weekly basis.
This is about doing what works for you but also is going to be healthy and helpful in the long run. So when choosing your activity, ask yourself whether that thing fills you up or drains you. That will help you determine which ones to select.
3. Make a Plan to Incorporate Self-Care Regularly
Now it’s time to figure out when these self-care activities are going to happen. Like we talked about in Episode 85, you have to make a plan or else things are simply not going to happen.
It takes intentionality to do this, but it’s worth it. Here’s a few ideas on how to make this plan:
Look at Your Schedule and Eliminate the Clutter
Is there stuff in your schedule that does not need to be there? Are you wasting time doing things that are not necessary? Get rid of them!
Identify when you will incorporate your self-care practices.
Okay, now you’ve got to add this new practice into your schedule. I would encourage you to consider one daily habit and one weekly habit.
Now I know what you might say. You can’t do this because you simply can’t fit one more thing into your schedule. That’s the reason you HAVE to do this, friend. If you are so jam packed that you have no time to do these simple things, then there’s a problem.
Many of these activities do not have to take a long time. You can incorporate self-care into what you’re already doing. Don’t think about it as a totally separate part of your schedule, although sometimes it might be. But in many cases, it can be the little things you do that light you up and help you feel healthier.
I want to hear how you’re going to put this episode into action. So in our Facebook group this week (or whenever you listen), come in and tell us what steps you are taking to simplify your self-care!!
Other Resources for Self-Care and Building Habits:
- Why Habits Matter in a Leader’s Life
- 5 Steps to Creating New Habits
- Episode 31: The Key to Accomplishing Your Goals
- Episode 81: Dealing with Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and Mental Health as a Christian Leader
- How to Create Time for the Things You Love (Even if You’re a Busy Mom!)
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