By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Although self-care is a new concept to some, health care is important for your own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Self-care means doing things for yourself that slows you to meet your emotional, physical and spiritual needs. As someone who writes, speaks and is a literary agent, my plate is often full. I must practice caring for myself, my body, soul, and spirit so I can be as healthy as possible to be the best person God wants me to be.
If you're someone who's constantly on the go, it is possible you don't practice self-care often, or worse, have never practiced self-care at all. Just as on an airplane you must put the breathing mask on yourself first before you can help someone else, it is the same with self-care. Although our time is limited and our two to-do list can get quite long, it's still important to incorporate these practices into our lives. By giving yourself permission to care for yourself, it allows you the break you need to be more productive and do tasks – not out of obligation – but out of joy and contentment.
Here are some ways of practice self-care:
Six Ways You Can Practice Self-Care
First, I set good boundaries. It is easy for me to pick up the computer and still work even after I have worked for long periods of time. I've had to promise myself I won't pick up the computer to do any work past a certain time in the evening. The same goes for my phone, which has both e-mail addresses so I can have quick access to view my e-mail at any time. By setting firm boundaries, I’m able to stop looking at the phone and computer by 7:00 in the evening. I don't look at my phone past 8 PM, and then start my evening routine so I can have a restful night sleep.
Second, I allow myself to relax. When I'm feeling particularly stressed, I will treat myself to a massage or a dip in the hot tub. As someone with chronic back pain, how often do I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. Do you often get sore and need a massage to work out all the kinks? My physical body will tell me when I'm feeling too stressed from taking on too much. It's important for me to find ways to relax. As another way to deal with anxiety, sometimes I need to just put the screens away and relax.
Third, I have a bedtime routine that I follow rigorously. I am someone who needs to get at least eight to nine hours of sleep at night to feel fully rested. Therefore, I start my evening routine at around 8 PM. An hour before my nighttime routine begins, I have a cup of tea that is soothing for me and often has very thorough health properties. My body knows when it's ready to start preparing for bedtime. Sometimes I also go to bed an hour earlier, so I can get an extra hour of sleep.
Fourth, I do very passive activities during my Sabbath. I unlock my creative spirit, through things like coloring or doing another craft if I'm feeling like I want to create something, but I don't want to work. Being passively creative through things like coloring or reading a book, allows my brain to relax so we don't constantly have to be engaging. Painting, singing or learning an instrument also allows my creative spirit to express itself freely.
Celebrate the good times of life. When we have things to celebrate in our home, we normally do activities with family or at the very least allow my kids to get a special dinner or dessert to celebrate life’s blessings. The celebration switches my brain from one of complaining or arguing to one of gratitude and praise.
It's important to commemorate the joys and blessings of life rather than just focusing on the negative. Sit in a quiet area to be alone with God. My emotional well-being being suffers when I do not spend the time I should in quiet time. Sitting alone, practicing deep breathing for 20 minutes will help calm your nerves and stop anxiety. While anxiety can be a natural part of us, God doesn't want us to live in fear. He commands us not to fear over 300 times in the Bible. It's one of the most used phrases in the entire Bible. God wants us to display courage during trials.
Anxiety lessens with praise. Instead of grumbling, when I can focus on those things, I'm practicing good healthy routines for me.
Journaling is also an important part of self-care. If you are carrying your own negative emotions like anger, bitterness or rage, it's important to leave those emotions behind between the pages of the journal. Say whatever you need to say in that journal. Write out conversations where you are able to express your negative emotions in a way that doesn’t injure the other person, but rather helps you communicate effectively. When you are done, you will feel better. I know God is faithful to seek vengeance for us when we've been wronged. You can also throw away the journal as a way of letting go of the pain from your past.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Sixth, take some time off. Sometimes it can be difficult given our jobs. Taking time off to rest is important. Do you have vacation days you can take? Seek to try to take them to do some much- needed travel. Go see your family and friends, or spend time catching up on projects around the house. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you refrain from engaging in work such as answering emails or phone calls.
When we take the time to care for ourselves, God is praised because we are in the best state physically and emotionally. Stress can take a negative toll on our lives (including our health) if we're not careful. Cast all our cares and burdens onto him; we must trust that he'll be faithful to answer each one. I can think of no better way to take care of your emotional well-being than reading the word.
Tell him all your deepest feelings. Jesus spent time communicating with his father on a regular basis. Because of that bond they shared, he was able to minister to others without envy or jealousy because he knew he had the father’s love. You’ll communicate with God in ways you could never imagine.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/jacoblund
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.
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