Self-care takes different forms, depending on the situation and person.
Lighting a candle. Enjoying a slow coffee and breathing deeply. Taking a walk. Spending time with a friend. Choosing healthy foods.
Each of those has its place.
But when life feels like it’s spiraling out of control, self-care may be the first thing to go.
How do we stop that from happening, to make ourselves more of a priority?
As a woman of faith, I frame self-care in the context of stewardship.
So What’s Self-Care?
“In health care, self-care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated,” begins one Wikipedia article. On the Wheel of Health, it’s the areas over which we have the most control.
So in terms of health care, think of preventive measures – regular exercise, good nutrition, healthy sleep.
In psychology, it’s activities that give your body and mind a break. And that help you unwind and de-stress.
It’s creating healthy habits that nurture you.
Self-care ideas are plentiful, such as these for coping with stress or these for overall well-being. (You even can subscribe to my updates and get a free “31 Acts of Self-Care for Life’s Nooks and Crannies” checklist from me if you’d like.)
But self-care also has become a buzzword in the past couple of years. Search #selfcare on Instagram, and you’ll see selfies of young women in yoga poses or with freshly painted nails. And some wearing mud masks, drinking coffee, or showcasing a wellness product.
Millenials, the generation that taught us all how to take smartphone selfies, seem to be the most focused on self-care, according to a recent study.
But because of the word’s overuse, maybe you’re skeptical of self-care. It can be easy to dismiss it as selfish and self-indulgent.
Perhaps we should look at it in a different way – as part of stewardship.
So What’s Stewardship?
Merriam-Webster defines stewardship as “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
This time of year, if you’re connected to most any church, you’re hearing about stewardship and how you can use your gifts and service for others. Our congregation has been discussing a book, “Earn, Save, Give: Wesley’s Simple Rules for Money.” And this week, we discussed the difference between charity and stewardship. We agreed that we need both.
That conversation led me to think of other ways that I am called to be a good steward. I believe it’s important to attend well to God’s Creation – the environment, animals, and other people.
I’m called to care for my mind, body, and spirit. To practice self-care. And to practice stewardship.
Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CEB)
For a long time, I didn’t do that well. I learned the hard way that I had to make space and time to care for me. I had thought that always other people came first. But I found that once I started taking care of me, I could be a better steward of the other gifts that God had entrusted to me.
So have you been dubious about self-care, about making yourself more of a priority? Maybe re-frame self-care in a context of stewardship. How?
Eat healthy. Get enough sleep. And move your body.
Practice your faith. Pursue your personal and professional dreams. And manage your stress.
Also, improve your physical environment. And embrace healthy relationships.
In the end, both self-care and stewardship come down to a lifelong pursuit of caring about what God created: You.
Your Turn: Self-Care, Stewardship, or Both?
What are your thoughts on self-care and stewardship? I’d love to hear them. You can comment below, or join my free Facebook group, where we can have more of a conversation. I look forward to hearing from you.
I’m Amy Hoogervorst, an integrative health coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. Thanks for reading. If you’d like to receive my periodic updates and blog posts directly in your inbox, please subscribe!