Self Care, Soul Care
Whilst enjoying brunch on the beach with some coworkers, we started talking about self-care. If you don’t work in ministry, do you talk about self-care with your coworkers? Serious questions. It’s been a while since I’ve had a non-vocational ministry job. But I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need self-care in some capacity. Sadly, we don’t talk about self-care enough in the church world. There’s a reason burnout is an epidemic in the non-profit and ministry sector.
Anyway, one definition of self-care was, “anything that reminds you it doesn’t all depend on you.” When you work with people, every issue can seem like an emergency and you can often find yourself looking around for someone to help this person standing in front of you, with tears streaming down their face, and realize it’s only you (at least it feels that way).
Long ago, before I was in vocational ministry, someone told me about the importance of creating boundaries, of guarding your day off. The work never ends, they said, so you have to be intentional about creating time for your personal health.
I’ve tried to do this in my line of work. But I’ve reached burnout a few times, so clearly I haven’t mastered it.
However, here are a few things I do to promote holistic health.
There is no end of research revealing the stress-reducing achievement of exercise. I don’t have the skill-set to discuss the science behind it but I know I feel better physically and emotionally whenever I leave the gym. This is almost a daily ritual and I’ve come to look forward to coming home, making myself a protein drink, and walking to the gym for some self-care. Worth. It.
Yoga & Meditation
This also has lots of research behind it, but all I can share is my own experience. Sometimes results are instant, but most often I notice a clarity of mind and spirit after being consistent over a few days. I LOVE yoga. Seriously. (Gosh, I kind of want to stop writing and do some yoga right now).
Tolkien says, “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
I love this quote. Often I feel like we put pressure on ourselves to face all of our problems right now.
But then I think of Jesus—who was God—who wandered away from his flock to pray, who took naps in the middle of storms, who ate dinner with his best friends the night before he died, and wonder if our desire to face all our issues head on, can kind of make us a little hardened and crazy sometimes.
This is also why I write fantasy fiction. I believe in its healing power to allow us to face our issues in a fictional world before returning to the real one.
Grateful for all of the books out there that promote escapism!
This goes hand in hand with reading a good book. Gosh, I often feel like my soul has been restored when I walk out of a live theatrical production. There is something magical about the interaction of actors with the audience, of a story being told by real people in front of our eyes. I believe participating in any art can be self-care. We need art to keep us human—to remind us of our humanity.
Time Laughing with Friends
This one is my favorite and the most rejuvenating. Being with others, in the intimacy of a context that makes you comfortable enough to laugh—that’s self-care with others. I think it’s important self-care not always be done in isolation (though being alone is not at all wrong). However, we can receive care from others. And if we go back to the original definition, allowing our friends to be in our lives and make us laugh is one way to remind ourselves: saving the world does not depend upon us.
What about you? What are your self-care methods? How do you know you are engaging in self-care? How do you define it?