What is going on in the world can throw us into a state of frenzy, helplessness, hopelessness and depression. While our city is facing a spike in the number of Covid-19 virus cases, many of us are experiencing a mix of emotions.
At times like this, I cling on to the words of Jesus.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31b, NIV).
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples after a long day of ministry and it was not even over yet. The first half of the verse tells us, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”.
Jesus told the disciples to withdraw with Him to a quiet place to rest. They had been working so hard and the demand for them was so great that they did not have a chance to eat. Self-care doesn’t mean we are selfish, it simply means we are taking care of our spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health and needs. God wants us to thrive wherever He has placed us. He wants us to use our gifts to bless others for His glory. He does not want us to be depressed or withered, especially in this season of our lives.
By taking care of our wellbeing and needs, not only are we able to function well in our duties, we will be fruitful.
Below are some of the ways I take care of myself. I hope they will be useful for you too especially we are facing challenging times:
1.Get enough sleep
A well-rested night improves our overall mood. Jesus slept in the storm (Matthew 8:23-27). We too can commit anything which is bothering us to our loving God. Doctors recommend at least 7 hours of sleep at night. Each of us is different. But as human beings, we need to get enough sleep to recharge from the day. Some of us need a nap in the afternoon. Naps refresh us too.
2.Eat nutritious food
Nourishing our bodies with nutrition-dense food will give us stamina for the long-haul. In the past, in order to sustain myself for a long day of ministry, I would just eat junk food so I could go back to work quickly. I would eat instant noodles because it was quick to prepare (and I must add, tasty!). When I was sleepy, I would get a can of Cola from the vending machine or a convenient store. When I was low in energy, I would get an ice cream cone for the sugar to keep me going.
But then I realised that by eating well, I am more alert and have more stamina. Sugary and starchy foods are tasty but they make me bloated or sleepy due to the spike it made on my blood sugar level. Eating home cooked food will always be a great option for our well being and for our wallet.
A walk in the park, doing gardening and watching the plants grow and harvesting its fruits, sitting in nature, taking a walk outdoors, dancing to music gladden our hearts. God knits our muscles together. “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalms 139:13, NLT). I often remind myself that exercise is celebrating what I can do with my body.
4. Find a community
Engaging in a conversation with our good friends can boost our mood. It is even more so during this pandemic. We should reach out and care for one another. We may not be able to do this face to face but we can always reach out to our friends through phone calls or social media (depending on which is your friend’s preferred mode).
5.Take a shower
May be it is something about the feel of running water on our skin, or the sweet-smelling shower wash. Taking a shower rejuvenates me and makes me feel fresher and better.
6. Get tidy
A tidy space does wonders to our soul. The process of tidying itself is liberating: learning to let go of a pre-loved item, giving away clothes I do not need (but must be in good condition!) cleaning my space and giving thanks to God for a space I can call home is a blessing.
7. Take a break
Don’t feel guilty to take a break. Over-scheduled calendars overwhelm us and take us away from the priorities that God has given to us. Schedule some free time for yourself to do something you enjoy. It can be having half an hour to yourself each day, or taking annual leave to refresh ourselves, or to go for a silent retreat at retreat houses.
At this time of writing, I am already planning my leave to recharge myself.
8. Set healthy boundaries
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NIV). The demands around Him were great but He knew what was most important to His wellbeing, which was, time with God. Without setting healthy boundaries, He could not give the best to those in need of His help. Don’t feel bad when you have to say “no” just because there are some other things you need to take care of. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. There are times we need to take a break from ministering and caring for others. There is a time and season for everything, including a time to serve and a time to rest so that we can be more effective when we serve.
9. Spend time with God
Spend time with God by worshipping Him, reading His Word, meditating on His Word, journaling, listening to sermons and so on. He loves us the most and time spent with Him not only refreshes our souls but will strengthen us for the day ahead.
Jesus Christ came to save and yet He did not neglect looking after His wellbeing. He made time for rest. He prioritized His prayer times. Taking time to nurture our physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health is important for us and to those around us. When we are healthy, we will thrive in the gifts God has blessed us with.
What are your self-care activities? I would love to hear from you!