In the online world, women frequently come across talk about the importance of self-care. We are often told that, in order to function properly, we need to set aside time to take care of ourselves. This tends to elicit two initial reactions:
- A desperate sigh because, like, who even has time for that? Or,
- An eye-roll, because self-care is only for the fragile and there’s too much important work to be done.
As much as I hate to admit it, these are often my own first thoughts when I reflect upon self-care. I tend to think that self-care is vital for other women, but that I can handle more, suck it up more, push through more.
And I know I’m not alone in these thoughts. I’ve spoken with many women who think they are exempt from the need for self-care either because they can’t imagine how to fit anything else into their overflowing schedules, or they believe that serving others is more important and thus taking time for themselves is taking time away from more important work.
Is Self-Care Selfish?
As Christians, our lives our imbued with a notion of self-sacrifice. We are a missional Church. We follow Christ’s example, laying down our lives for our friends. We are called to provide support for the marginalized. Our vocations radiate service. Self-sacrifice is a fiber of our being as Christians, as it very-well should be.
We pause at the notion of stepping back and focusing on our own bodies, minds, and souls. We are quick to indulge the distorted idea that self-care isn’t Christian because it’s “not directly at service of Christ and His Church.”
But I think God might disagree for two reasons.
1. We are called to be stewards.
At its core, self-care is all about being good stewards of our bodies, minds, and souls in order to become the best version of ourselves. In Genesis, God commands us to take care of all His creation. And guess what? That includes ourselves. We are His handiwork, and He wants us to flourish and thrive in beauty and love, not be tossed aside or neglected, whatever the motivation.
2. We can’t give what we don’t have.
We’ve all heard that we can’t give what we don’t have, and this remains true when it comes to taking care of others. There are so many demands on our time and attention as women—family, work, children, friends, volunteer work—and if we don’t take the time to tend to ourselves, our well will dry up rather quickly. We will have nothing left to give.
When it comes to things we care about like our family and our work, none of us aim to give the very last leftover bits of ourselves. Rather, we desire to give the very best of ourselves. So when we take care of ourselves, we are filled up, renewed, and restored so we can offer the Lord and the people around us the very best of who we are.
The Example of Jesus.
If these reasons aren’t enough to convince us of the deep Christian values self care holds, then we can simply look at the life of Christ. If we are meant to live as He lived, then that includes looking at the details of His daily life. He understood the importance of self-care:
- Many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus retreated from everyone else to rest alone or to pray by Himself (see Mark 1:9-13, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:30-32, Mark 6:45-46, Mark 14:32-42).
- Jesus took time to sleep, even when it was inconvenient (Matthew 8:23-27).
- Jesus encouraged others to rest, like when He told Martha not to be anxious about the housework, but to come and relax with Him (Luke 10: 38-42; see also Mark 2:27).
- When His Apostles were in the midst of major transition (wrapping their heads around Jesus’ death and Resurrection), He fed them (John 21:5-14).
These moments recorded thousands of years ago were not included haphazardly. They are a part of Scripture for a reason. Jesus is the Way for us, and that way includes making time for self-care. The Lord loves us so much, He desires only our good, and this means stewarding our whole health.
How Do We Live this Out Practically?
You might be thinking: “I get it, and I know it’s important. It sounds great, actually. But how do I make this a reality within my specific life circumstances?”
That’s the tricky part, isn’t it? Because women are born with maternal instincts, we are quick to set our own needs aside constantly in order to meet the needs of others. Figuring out how to care for ourselves can prove to be an obstacle that seems insurmountable. Thankfully, there are vast and simple ways to be intentional about caring for ourselves. Sometimes, we just need some inspiration, encouragement, and ideas.
If you’re wanting to dive deeper into this idea of self care, join us on April 19th (that’s tomorrow!) for a workshop all about it. I’ll be there (hi!), and we’ll have a great time chatting about why self care is important for Christians, and I’ll get to answer your specific questions, too!
In the workshop we will discuss:
- What self care actually is (and what it is not)
- Why self care is biblical and Catholic
- What self care might look like for various states in life
- How you can begin to find your own rhythm of self care
When we begin being intentional about the wonderful creation that is us, the need for self-care becomes apparent. Taking care of ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s at the service of providing others only the best of who God created us to be. Even God Incarnate knew He needed moments of restoration. We are wise to follow Him.
I hope you can join more of your sisters on the 19th to hash out this topic together. Self-care can sometimes feel like a mythical unicorn, and we are going to do our best to help you make it a reality in your life. See you there!
Written by Olivia Spears. Find out more about her here.