What the Heck is Self-Care?

I’ve been sick for over three weeks.  Started out as allergies, which irritated everything, triggering a sinus infection and bronchitis.  Then the broad spectrum antibiotic and antifungal I was taking kicked my IBS into high gear.  Don’t worry, I can take a hint!!  I took a week off work to go to my brother’s and rest and think. One of the things I realized is that I’ve been seriously lacking in self-care lately.

Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself. It is doing exactly what you need to do to feel the best all around. This includes mentally, physically, and emotionally. Each person has their own way to give themselves self-care. This can be anything from quitting your exhausting job, to getting your hair done, or ensuring you have time to read each evening before bed.

Taking care of yourself should not be overlooked. There are many benefits that result from a self-care routine. If you are not taking care of yourself, eventually it can lead to overwhelming stress, lack of confidence, less productivity at work, and even cause deteriorating relationships with family and friends.

To really understand self-care, you need to understand yourself first. Ask yourself these questions to gain some clarity.

? What are the things I need to do to feel complete?
? What activities help me relieve stress?
? Is there anything I can eliminate from my daily schedule that is preventing       me from taking care of myself?
? Am I happy with my exercise routine?
? Am I eating healthy?

The way you answer these questions determines your self-care needs. Once you have defined your needs, you need to make room for them in your schedule, and follow through to reap the benefits.

Self-care is extremely beneficial for optimal health. Let’s look at a few of the amazing benefits you’ll experience over time.

self-care

Increased Positivity – Adding self-care activities to your schedule will give you something to look forward to. Now you will no longer be thinking about how bad your day is.  Instead, you’ll be looking forward to reading that book in total silence or getting your nails done after work.
Increased Self-Confidence – Your needs are now a top priority and that is a good thing. After all, you can’t take good care of others, if you’re letting yourself fall apart.  Self-confidence will naturally increase because you are simply doing the things that make you feel good.
Improved Immunity – Self-care allows you to give your body a break from stress, anxiety and emotional trauma, which increases your immunity. Stress and depression can overload your mind and body, so it is crucial to reduce your stress as much as possible.
Better Relationships – The more your needs are met the better your relationships will be with other people. When you are feeling down about yourself and don’t feel important, chances are that’s what you are putting out to others.
Higher Productivity – All the benefits that have been stated above help with increased productivity at work and at home. Less stress, higher immunity, and higher self-confidence all help to boost productivity.

Remember, self-care is all about you as an individual. So, what you need to do to take care of yourself won’t be the same as your spouse, friends, or family. After this routine is put in place, you should notice a significant change in your health and overall well-being.

Part 2 of the series

Setting Priorities Biblically

setting priorities biblically

After working an extremely stressful job for almost 7 years, I realized that my priorities were out of order. Time with God or even for myself had gone by the wayside. Work had become my top priority, followed by laundry (more work) and cleaning the house (even more work). Making time for family, friends, or the blog was nearly impossible. I was exhausted all the time.

Setting My Priorities

As I was writing my Life Plan (How Changing My Life Helped Me Move Forward), one of the steps was to prioritize my “life accounts.” Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy write in their book,  Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, “The people who live and lead with the most joy and contentment are those who have clarity about their priorities.”

So, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, my life accounts are Faith, Self-Care,  Art (my husband), Kids, Parents & Brothers, Friends, Creative/Career, and  Financial (in that order). But how did I prioritize these accounts? I tried to follow God’s Greatest Commandments, in Matthew 22: 37-40:

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (NKJV)

How does this teaching correspond to my life accounts?

Well, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, to me, means that God and my faith come first.  In practice, this means that I do my devotions and Bible Study first thing in the morning (after feeding the dogs). It also means that I will make it a priority to find a church home.

The second part of the commandment is a little more tricky. It reads, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Many of you have probably seen the acronym JOY which stands for Jesus, Others, Yourself. Growing up, this was the order I was told my priorities should be.

Since then I have learned the lesson of putting on my own oxygen mask first. Think of it this way. You are on an airplane, accompanying a small child. The plane hit some turbulence and oxygen masks drop down from the ceiling. If you assist the child, before you put on your own oxygen mask, you run the risk of passing out before the child’s mask is secure. Instead, as any good flight attendant will tell you, you should first put on your own oxygen mask before assisting those around you.

So to me, when Jesus says, “love others as you love yourself,” it means that I must take good care of myself, in order to be of service to others. It also means that when others are my priority, I should treat them with the same respect that I would treat myself. I should honor someone else’s request for down time and respect their own need for self care.  I should also assist those who need help in taking care of themselves.

I have found that after setting my priorities according to the Great Commandments, that the other priorities, such as Career/Creative and Financial, sort of just fall into place. There are times when this way of prioritizing seems counter-intuitive to everything I was taught. Then I remember,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NKJV)

What are your priorities?