“I need to take care of myself today”, was that your waking thought this morning? Did any portion of your day, even 30 minutes, specifically revolve around self-care? Self-care is a concept I understand as taking care of myself; maybe you call it balance or having margin in your life. It’s something I don't do naturally until I face a crisis or am in a place in life where I can't keep going. Sometimes my trigger is burnout or, many times, brokenness in my life reveals my need for rest. For me, taking care of myself means ultimately taking care of the darkness of my heart and soul. Often, my need for self-care is obvious when I find myself becoming angry, resentful, impatient or exhausted.
For me, there are 4 primary areas of self-care:
1. Regular exercise – walking, biking or running 3-4 times a week. Recent studies show that about 20-30 minutes a day of walking is adequate.
2. Eating healthy foods at appropriate times. Eating reasonable portions at meal times and healthy snacks when the urge to snack hits me.
3. Sleep. Experts say most adults need 7-8 hours per night. Here is a link on sleep hygiene that has some practical tips - http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/sleep-hygiene
4. Time alone with God. For me, I like to read small amounts of Scripture, think about and apply it as I write in my journal. Recently, Sarah Peterson's Jesus Calling (http://www.thomasnelson.com/jesus-calling.html) has been a great encouragement to me.
There are some other things that help me care for myself: time away from my routine, working in our yard and garden, and working on repurposing old things.
Our culture values hard work and sometimes the demands of life require our full attention on those around us while, inside, our hearts and lives, relationship with Christ and those we love most, become depleted. Perhaps, finding some time in your day for yourself, searching for those ways that speak self-care to you and being intentional about pursuing those things will bring balance and margin to your life.
Joe Bucha, MA, LPC