Today is Self-Care Saturday. In previous entires about self-care, I’ve talked a lot about practices like getting adequate rest, exercise, hydration, mindful eating, hanging out with friends, and pampering. Lots of pampering. (Which reminds me, I’m long overdue for a spa day.) Often, self-care and sabbath seem to be two sides of the same coin.
Self-care is defined as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.”
Sabbath is the day of rest instituted by God during creation and gifted to us to observe for reflection, renewal and rejoicing.
It’s the weekend, which generally invites us to slow down from the bustle of the week and take better care of ourselves. The weekend also gives us time for recreation and fun. Sounds like self care and sabbath to me. To that end, this morning I made my way to the gym as an act of self-care; I walked 2 miles and did 30 minutes on the elliptical while listening to Gina Stewart and Nas. I came home, took a long, luxurious shower and fixed breakfast for lunch for ,myself and my family as an act of self-care—because who doesn’t love breakfast at any time?
And all that is good, but today I want to consider an expanded definition of self-care: Self-care as practicing whatever is good for your soul.
As I write this, I am at home sitting under the hair dryer. I am getting myself (really, my hair) ready for this evening. I am officiating and preaching the funeral of one of my beloved hospice patients before heading out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. My computer is on my lap and I am taking a break from working on a sermon. I’m not preaching tomorrow, but if you’ve been around me long enough (or read the blog) you know that I love preaching. I loooove preaching! And you know that for as much as I love encountering God in the preaching moment, what gives me life is the conversation and wrestling with God in the study and preparation.
So I’m working on a sermon…as an act of self-care.
Working as an act of self care?
Does not compute. Isn’t work the opposite of self care?
By most accounts work is the opposite of self-care. But as a woman who’s primary work is providing spiritual care and emotional support for those who are nearing death AND is called by God to preach I have a case of the “I can’t help its!” Sermon preparation is work—don’t misunderstand me—but walking through the biblical text while prayerfully hearing from God inspires me and energizes me. Digging deep into the Scripture as God reveals timeless truths that can help in the living of our days bolsters my faith. Hearing God afresh gives me hope in seemingly hopeless times. Being reminded of God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience and love as I write what the Spirit whispers to me are a balm to my sometimes tired soul. In short, study and sermon preparation are good for my soul. So, so good for my soul. And I am doing it.
And today I realized that IS self-care.
Duh! It seems like a no brainer, right? But I had to have a conversation with myself to get to this place. Just before stopping to write this blog, I was giving myself a hard time about working. I was beating myself for not enjoying the down time, especially since the girls were napping. Through the internal chastisement, I kept working. And then God gave me something to write that was so good it quickened my soul. I got happy, y’all! And then I had to pause and recognize that what I was doing was not only good, but was good for me. And that by honoring the gift and calling of God on my life that I was indeed practicing self-care.
That’s cool, Donna, but what does this mean for me?
On this Self-Care Saturday, I want to invite you to embrace whatever self-care practices are good for your soul, even if they don’t fit the traditional understanding of self-care. Don’t worry about what others say you should do for self-care, do what you need to do in order to have optimal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And if that means working, be intentional about working in such a way that your soul is salubrious and sublime.