A few months ago when I was researching the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” I found a couple of articles that bothered me. One seemed to use Jesus as an example of someone who continuously poured out, without taking time to recharge. However, from Scripture, we know that Jesus often withdrew from the crowds to be alone with the Father or only in the company of the apostles. Another article pointed out how “self-care” has become a buzzword that covers anything from overindulging to extravagant getaways. The more I studied, the more I realized FIVE simple truths that can change the view of Self-Care. I presented an entire lesson on this topic in our most recent Wavemaker Life Hope Summit. That presentation even has an acronym!
Self-care is NOT selfishness. On an airplane, we’re instructed to secure our own oxygen mask before helping others, even our own children. You fill your gas tank before going on a trip (and routinely – hopefully – before the tank is empty and you end up on the side of the road). Think of self-care as routine maintenance to improve your overall performance and mileage.
Self-care is your responsibility to yourself, to your relationships, and also to anyone whom you intend to serve. I am a pretty simple person. I rarely wear make-up, I focus on simple hairstyles (with fabulous hair accessories, and prefer comfortable to glamorous. That being said, I keep my face clean, my hair cared for, and my clothes as clean and untattered as possible (at least in public). The way we show up determines the impression we make. I want to make waves in the world!
Self-care is a routine. As a mom, sometimes self-care is as simple as going to the bathroom alone, taking two minutes to cut your toenails or 30 minutes to shower and wash your hair without interruptions. Self-care is developing habits that make your day better.
Self-care is NOT the same as self-soothing. I enjoy starting my day with a cup of coffee. When I’m on track, my coffee creamer is my biggest indulgence of the day. I like to have a glass of wine with friends. I think dessert is the best part of any meal – but I don’t have dessert with EVERY meal. Any of these can quickly become an over-indulgence. Self-soothing is not caring for yourself at all.
In short, Self-care is boring. Self-care is getting up a few minutes earlier to set your mindset for the day. Self-care is doing what you know is important for your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Self-care is reigning in bad habits and replacing them with better ones. Self-care is often doing the next right thing.
Self-care is a way for us to give back to ourselves and release everyday pressures. It doesn’t require you to buy anything, like many marketing/social media entities would lead you to believe.
Samantha Heuwagen, Marriage and Family Therapist in Atlanta