Quick disclaimer: I’m not a health-care professional. Self-care is highly personal, and certain aspects of it should be discussed with your personal health care team. (Including mental health professionals).
I often notice that the Holy Spirit speaks to us in seasons. A few weeks ago, my post about margins resonated with many of you (you can read it here). About the same time that I hit the publish button, several of my writer friends were posting about margins, too.
And now, when I’m ready to share the self-care post that I promised awhile ago, I’ve seen several related posts recently about this topic as well. My friend Rachel recently posted on Instagram about how Sabbath rest is part of her self-care.
Coincidence? I think not.
Self-care has been a bit of a hot button topic for a few years now. Pictures of “self-care” fill our social media, ranging from bubble baths and wine to reminders to take care of your mental health. And in our current culture of “you do you,” it’s safe to say that pretty much anything can be deemed self-care and no one will question it.
Personally, I love it when my self-care looks like bubble baths and books and beaches. My personal self-care routines often look like taking time to read, exercising daily, and drinking enough water. Not everything fits into a daily routine, so seasonally, I make sure to take some time for self-reflection, a small getaway, and regular visits to health providers. And of course, there are bigger things, like annual vacations, that are a wonderful form of self-care when they aren’t filled with stress. For example, we recently had the opportunity to get away from real life for a much-needed vacation and it. Was. Bliss. Literally. We had no schedule, no responsibilities, just time together to just be, to walk on the beach, to shop, to explore our favorite places. It was a wonderful respite, pure and simple, and we enjoyed every minute of it. (Ok, there were a couple of intense driving moments as we came through Portland traffic, but it didn’t last long).
But what happens when our rhythms and routines of self-care are disrupted?
Relaxing in a bubble bath on a daily basis isn’t a reality for many of us. (I still hear the tiny voices through my bathroom door. There’s no escaping.) When life is going well, bubble baths and books and beaches can be great ways to relax and have fun, but when life is hard, self-care often has to take a different path.
Real talk: I’m currently packing the Covid-20 and it frustrates me. A little more than 4 years ago, I’d lost those 20 pounds and was in the best shape of my life at age 40. In the last 4 years, between too much banana bread during quarantine and fighting injuries that make it difficult to workout, I’ve put it back on, despite continuing to workout as I can and make (mostly) healthy eating choices. It’s frustrating to say the least.
More real talk for you: the extra 20 pounds I’m packing right now is causing me to have high blood pressure. Medically, that’s not a good thing. As a result, self-care right now looks like taking a low dose BP med to protect my blood vessels while I work on losing those pounds. In Becca’s perfect world, I’d be training for a half marathon right now, working on shedding those pounds and getting the BP back under control.
There’s a barrier to this strategy, though, and it’s name is pain. Since last October, I’ve been dealing with a lot of toe pain after I run, and it’s gradually been getting worse. Self-care right now looks like working with my doctors to figure out exactly what’s going on, and what that means for the future of my relationship with running. As of this writing, I’m 3 days post-op from a minor foot surgery that will hopefully get me back to running once I’m fully recovered. Self-care for the foreseeable future includes things like resting, going slower than I want to go, and being very gentle with my body as it works to heal.
It’s a season of reevaluating what self-care looks like for me in this season where there are barriers in the way of my “normal” self-care routines. Here are three things that are helping me in this season:
Turn to Jesus.
When I rely on Jesus for my needs and my strength, I find that I actually need less time for “recharging” in my daily life. It’s easy to get caught up in finding my identity in that Instagram post that shows how many miles I ran or minutes I worked out. When I spend more time with Jesus, I find my self-worth in Him, and I am reminded of who I am: a child of God. This is the number one most important part of my self-care routine.
Have a plan.
I like to give myself alternatives if Plan A doesn’t pan out. When I had to give up running for a season, I was fortunate to be able to switch to spinning and walking for my daily movement. Sometimes my planned “recharging” time gets taken away by a last minute trip to the store for a necessary ingredient. When that happens, I try to have a plan to either find time later, or choose a different way to recharge that day.
Be gentle with yourself.
Life happens and plans have to change. I had to change dental cleaning appointments multiple times this year because life happened. Instead of feeling guilty for having to cancel yet again, I simply made the new appointment and moved on. Life will always throw curveballs at us. How we respond to others and to ourselves is up to us.
While 6-8 weeks of recovery wasn’t in my plan, if the end result is a healthy foot, then it’s worth it. Self care isn’t always fun or pretty. It doesn’t always fit the current social narrative, and it sometimes can cost more than we want to give. And sometimes, it looks like books and beaches and bubble baths. Whatever season of life you find yourself in, I hope you are taking time for self-care, and I’d love to hear what your daily routines of self-care look like! Feel free to leave a comment about how you take care of yourself.
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