Self-care has been a pursuit that has weighed heavily on my mind for the past year. And now that I understand what self-care is and why I need it, I then had to craft my own regimen. Just a brief disclaimer, this is being shared to give you a template and a basic overview of how I am taking better care of myself. I have neither perfected this process or have even been completely successful yet! Everyone’s needs and desires are different. Make sure to do the work and personalize your approach.
To practice true self-care, I believe that I need to address all parts of me: Body, Mind, and Spirit.
1. Body: Self-care for your body is tending to your basic needs. I feel better when I exercise, get enough sleep, and fuel my body with good food. So, I have set up a general bed time for myself that ensures I get between 7-8 hours of sleep. I set a goal for myself to go to the gym 3-4 times per week (and my workouts include cardio and some weight-lifting, mixed-in with fun classes). And I’m trying (this is the hardest part of physical self-care) to choose fruits and veggies, water, good fats, and protein for my main sustenance.
2. Mind: Caring for your mind is to make sure that you are learning, growing, and connecting. For me, this means that I need to read. I am prioritizing time for reading before I go to bed, and I rotate what I read between faith (books on God/Christian living), fun (fiction work), and function (works that will increase my professional knowledge/skills set). This also means that I listen to podcasts/sermons, and carve out time for research, and meaningful conversations with others. I am also passionate about writing, so I’m investing in resources to increase my skills and making writing a regular part of my week.
3. Spirit: Nurturing for your spirit is to participate in existential activities. I am dedicating a daily quiet time, and have created a prayer list that I leave in my car so I can pray in my car. I make church attendance part of my week and choose worship music for my background noise. It’s also crucial to figure out in which way you can use your gifts and talents to serve. Being part of community is essential to caring for your soul too. We are crafted for connection and not meant to live life alone.
Additional strategies for body/mind/spirit care:
-Bookending my day: I notice the rhythm of my day is heavily influenced by my morning and night-time routines. In order to set myself up for success, I try to pick what I’m going to wear the next day (even if it’s in my mind) and pack some food for lunch at work. I then spend time in bed for at least a half hour to read, write, and decompress. I try as much as I can to avoid being on my phone or computer. For the morning, I’ve tried to get up a half hour earlier to leave time to sip a cup of coffee and have a quiet time reading my Bible, or a book on Christian living. This also gives me more time as I get ready because I am consistently running around like a madwoman on my way out the door.
-Journaling: I enjoy writing anyways, but I try to make sure that I’m reflecting on my thoughts, taking notes on what I’m learning, and sometimes write my prayers. The benefits of journaling are numerous, but for me, writing not only feeds my mind and soul, but brings a quietness to my racing mind that I need for my sanity!
-Extras: My self-care strategy also includes making time for activities that make me feel like “me”. For example, I paint my nails often, play board games, sit at a coffee shop regularly, visit bookstores, walk around Target, and look at YouTube videos/blogs I enjoy.
The biggest challenge of maintaining a self-care regimen is challenging my perfectionistic mantras of “Suck it up” or “Get it together.” I am learning to pause and rest in God’s gracious love, and accept that I am a human being with limits and needs. Lord, please help me surrender.
Ask yourself, what do you need? How do you care for yourself?