What is Self-Care? 4 Important Truths You Need to Remember
Taking care of ourselves as busy women is hard. We have so many responsibilities and balls up in the air. Our table is literally quite full!
Our to-do lists are miles long, we have daily responsibilities, family commitments, and so much on our plates that the thought of slowing down and taking care of ourselves is usually the furthest thing from what we need to do.
But the truth is, it’s probably the most important thing we actually need to do.
Taking care of ourselves is so important. It is vital to our health, our emotional well-being, and for our sanity.
Yet even though we know it’s important and worthwhile, that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier.
I’m a busy mom myself with three young children who depend on me for just about all of their needs to be met.
I have a husband and a marriage I am committed to and called to strengthen each and every day.
I have a home to maintain and care for, meals to plan, shop for, and make.
I have a growing business here in this blog space that is a blessing to our family, yet still, requires time and energy on my part.
I have a list of priorities that are important for my season of life, things that matter most to me and that I feel strongly about pouring my heart into.
I have a lot of things on my plate, so I get it that taking care of ourselves is hard, it’s usually on the bottom of my list too! But I have recently learned firsthand just how important it actually is.
I am coming out of a really hard season of burnout.
I literally had worked myself to the bone and was running a mile a minute. I was doing too many things, taking on more than I should have, and just had too many plates up in the air that I lost sight of my personal priorities, the things that mattered the most.
Losing sight of those things and running on fumes resulted in experiencing health issues.
My stress levels rose sky high, my anxiety came back with a vengeance, I had a handful of panic attacks that took a toll on my body. My patience level was at a zero, my daily joy had vanished, and I felt horrible.
I started to shut down, physically and emotionally, and it was so scary!
On top of that, I started to get sick. For the past few months, I have experienced one illness after another from a case of bronchitis that lasted for over a month to one of the worst sinus infections I had ever experienced.
What should have only have lasted for just a few days, continued on for works since my body just couldn’t fit it.
Last week it all came to a head when the stomach virus hit me hard.
Being sick when you are a mom is hard because not only are you trying to care for yourself but you also have to continue to care for your family and children, so when I was literally knocked to floor (the cold tile floor of my bathroom I might add), I had no choice but to stop.
For two full days, I was in bed doing absolutely nothing.
Everything stopped while I recovered and it was during those days when it came to light just how little I had been at taking care of myself and filling my own cup.
While some illnesses and viruses are common during the winter months, many can be prevented or even lessened when our bodies have the resources to fight them off.
I’m not only talking about health and building up our immune systems but about caring for our weary souls and letting our bodies rest and refuel to avoid burnout in the first place.
Laying in bed for those two days with absolutely no energy was a huge wake-up call for me.
I had not been treating my body well. Simply put, I hadn’t been filling my cup on a daily basis.
It was evident in my health, it was evident in my attitude, it was evident in my faith, and it was evident is about every way possible… some who will remain nameless 😉 might even say I was a big fat grouch and impossible to live with!
Does any of my personal story of reaching burnout resonate with you?
Are you plagued with exhaustion, being completely overwhelmed, running on empty, lacking joy, and just plain busy with tasks that never end?
Is your personal health taking a nose dive?
Are you struggling with growing in your faith?
Do you feel depleted mentally and emotionally?
It’s OK to admit it, and dare I say it’s even liberating to say enough is enough?
But wait, taking care of myself feels selfish, extravagant, and not very practical in my life right now. I just don’t have the time!
If that thought is running through your mind, you are not alone!
That is where I was until I was stopped right in my tracks and forced to rest and care for my body.
We need to get over this lie that self-care is a luxury and not a necessity.
What exactly is self-care?
It’s a term that is thrown around a lot but often with incorrect assumptions. For example, self-care is not:
- ignoring your family while you binge watch TV (or do any sort of recreational activity) to relax
- taking a day trip to the spa (although there is nothing wrong with a trip to the spa!) 😉
- using coping mechanisms to avoid certain situations
- or using any sort of substitute to fill ourselves outside of God
Self-care is not using temporary fixes that make yourself fill better in the moment but have no long-term implications.
Self-care is tending to your heart and soul spiritually, physically, and emotionally, allowing you to find rest, healing, peace, and claiming the abundant life Jesus promised in John 10:10.
When we make restoring our health, our soul, and our bodies a priority, we are in tune to what our bodies are trying to tell us causing us to live with greater purpose, intention, joy, and love.
When we pour into ourselves, we can in return pour out into the lives of those around us.
We can love our family well, embrace our roles as women, wives, mothers, daughters, and friends.
We can serve joyfully, and focus on what truly matters.
A Few Things I Want You to Remember
Self-Care is Important
Just look at my example up above. I didn’t care for myself well, so my body started to shut down emotionally and my health took a nose dive.
It’s easy to get lost in all of the daily responsibilities of day-to-day life but when we care for ourselves, we are able to pour out, love well, and model Christ’s love to others.
Self-Care is Not Selfish
When looking at the correct term of self-care, not just comforting ourselves and hiding behind coping mechanisms that just place a band-aid on the issues, filling our cups is restorative and vital.
Jesus himself regularly retreated from the crowds to pray and restore His weary soul by being in fellowship with His Father. (Matthew 14:13, Mark 3:7, Luke 5:16, John 6:15)
He knew He could not live on bread alone, He needed the living water too, just as we do!
Self-Care Is Broken Up in 3 Key Areas
When we are taking care of ourselves, we are filling our cups in these 3 ways:
Spiritually – Growing in Christ by filling our hearts with God’s Word, praying, practicing gratitude, studying Scripture to learn more about our Heavenly Father, and other spiritual disciplines that draw us closer to Him.
Physically – Caring for the physical aspects of our body by taking the time to rest, to eat nourishing food, staying hydrated, exercising, and seeking healthy ways to remain healthy, energized, and vibrant.
Emotionally – Filling ourselves with activities that refuel us through spending time and doing things we love and energize us, may that be reading, cooking, knitting, or any beloved hobby. It also included building relationships with our family, friends, or even seeking wise Biblical counseling to heal.
Self Care Looks Different For Everyone
While the 3 key areas are the same, everyone is created uniquely and we all care for ourselves in different ways. Understanding your personality and what matters most to you is key.
What matters to you may be very different than what matters to someone else. Embracing our unique personalities and differences is freeing because we can stop comparing ourselves to others and care for our weary souls in the best ways possible.
Filling Your Cup
My own journey through working through my own season of burnout has led me to do some soul-searching. God has revealed to me some important truths about rest, care for myself, and how to fill my own cup so I can pour out to others.
Knowing I’m not the only woman to walk through this valley, I know many of you also want to learn how to truly care for yourselves to so I’ve created Fill Your Cup.
It’s a blueprint to help you navigate how to care for yourself and live the intentional Grace-filled life with great faith, joy, peace, love, and purpose.
Do you struggle with self-care?
Please share your own story and journey of caring for yourself in the comment section below.