What is self -care?

It’s a big buzz word now as the millennials are all about practicing self-care. Self-care has become a 10 billion dollar industry worldwide. I personally had never even heard of the term until the past few years. Now, everywhere we turn, there are blogs on the art of self-care.

My friend and colleague recently experienced a life -threatening infection that landed him in the ICU with only hours to live if he didn’t have surgery. He, like so many of us, dedicates his life to his career— no boundaries, working insane hours, and giving more than he is receiving on a daily basis. He was exhausted and on the verge of death. As I stood beside him in the ICU, I began thinking about what could have prevented this not so sudden infection. Although his infection and need for exploratory surgery were sudden, the events leading up to the critical situation were not.

What does it mean to practice self-care?

As a single mother of two grown children now, I guarantee that self-care means something differently to me than it does someone who has never been on food stamps and humiliated every time they check out at the grocery while praying the EBT (food stamp) card was not declined. Self-care is something a single parent who is in school full-time, working multiple jobs, juggling life, children and home responsibilities doesn’t have time to entertain….or do they?

Self-care existed long before millennials did. In her 1988 book, A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde wrote, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”

The Bible is clear on rest, health and healing.

“….in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:17 – ESV).

Practicing self-care by resting and setting boundaries allows us to be able to serve others in a healthy way. When our mind, body, spirit and soul are healthy we are able to live the live we were designed to live.

Eating well is self-care, sleeping well is self-care, moving well is self-care, pooping well is self-care, decreasing stress is self-care, having community is self-care. These are the six principles for optimal health I discuss with patients daily.

Making self-care trendy and expensive takes away the true meaning of the term. It also makes self-care difficult for the people who need it most. True self-care is NOT Epsom salt baths with organic, soy candles, eight-dollar cups of coffee, or spa days with friends. Although these are all nice “treats” that bring me pleasure and help me to unwind, true self-care is consciously creating a life from which you don’t need to escape. True self care embodies the biblical idea of rest and recharging.

I have no idea what that looks like for you, but for me it means setting boundaries, keeping the soul suckers out of my life, resting, and protecting Sundays with a vengeance. Find your own ideal balance for self-care and begin healing emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. You won’t be sorry you did.

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