Self-care is not a superfluous, unimportant buzzword. Self-care is a matter of stewardship—a faithful partnership with God to care for our whole selves – Emily Sue Allen
I trust that we are optimistic about 2021, despite what has been thrown at us from last year by the pandemic. Many of us have suffered great blows while others have experienced greatness in the period. I have read posts of people who have been shattered by loss of loved ones, loss of livelihoods, disease and more. I have also read of those who have had the opportunity to move to new horizons and succeeded, in a period that was pretty difficult.
I am in between the two groups. Some things have worked out just fine for me, while others haven’t. And that is life. My goal for 2020 was to maintain a positive attitude. I noted how easy it was for me to get warped in either pity parties or whining with friends or colleagues for things that didn’t work out the way I wanted. I therefore made a deliberate decision to focus on things that were working and stop complaining when they didn’t. I had a chance to reflect also on things that needed to change in my life.
Did I get it right? Yes and no. I must admit that I worked hard on this one. It was not easy considering how my environment was. But I tried. My word for the year 2021 is self-care. Dr. Patricia Murugami says commit to one word for the year. It sets the theme, tone and pace of your year. Now you know. Hope you can adopt the same approach and have a word for your year. It’s not too late to do so.
Self-care may be considered selfish. However, is it wrong to take care of yourself? Why is it important for us to take care of ourselves?
Life is hard. We have, most of us, many responsibilities. We juggle families, nuclear and extended, employment and hustles, career growths, ministry or other form of service, studies and much more. Some of us are too busy. Busy-ness has been glorified in our society.
We have seen the rising number of depression cases especially during the Covid season. After all, the pressures have been many to bear.
I used to think I had a good balance of my life. Never thought depression would affect me in any way. For many years, I had viewed it as a disease of the West. ‘Africans don’t suffer from depression.‘ What is that? We can handle hard matters thrown our way. After all, we are born in adversity. And if you happen to be diagnosed with the disease, why even consider therapy? Many have been made to believe therapy is for the weak.
I must admit that I was able to see that it is possible to get into depression. 2020 was rough on many fronts. I had both personal, career and family struggles. Being at home as a full-time worker, wife and mother was not easy.
What was the result? Lack of interest in the things I enjoyed doing, lack of sleep, times I wished that I wouldn’t wake up and general lack of energy. I also noted that I was becoming irritable and my family received this side a lot. My daughter pointed out that it was hard to interact with me. There are times I felt my world was going crazy, forcing me to take drives to clear my head and spend time by myself.
Self-care is taking care of your physical, spiritual and mental state. This means focusing on your wellbeing. You would expect that we would naturally take care of ourselves because we are with ourselves all the time. But it is not the case. It is easy to neglect taking care of ourselves yet this is to our detriment and that of those around us.
How can we be practical about our self-care?
1. Create time for you to breathe and manage your emotions. Take a walk. Listen to some music. Journal. Cry. Laugh. Read a book. Do what works for you as there is no one solution for all.
2. Take time off your busy schedule, from work or home. Rest over the weekends. Proceed on annual leave. Burnout will weigh you down. Know your limits. Cut back time on social media.
3. Manage your finances well. Lack of money or poor management of the same contributes greatly to stress.
4. Get physical rest. Eat well. Sleep. Withdraw to quiet places and find rest.
5. Maintain your social circles. Let someone know what you are going through. Enjoy time together.
6. Get professional help if you are going through depression, burnout or excess anxiety. Your mental state is valuable.
7. Spend time in prayer. Read and study the Bible (it has all the answers). Love others. Be kind. Forgive others. Be grateful.
I believe that a good basis for self-care is the command Jesus gave. Love your neighbour as you love yourself. How can we love others if we do not know how to love others? If we are not in a good state, how can we serve others?
Self-care requires balance to ensure that we are not focusing too much on ourselves but also caring for the needs of those who need our care.
Go ahead and recharge and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s for your own good.
And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and goin, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6.31
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