Living a well-balanced life takes work, friends. One of the very practical things I had to learn in the last few years is how to take care of myself.
Everyone has their own ideas of what self-care looks like. Some will say it’s about sleep and exercise. Others say it is spending time in silence and solitude. Spending time with friends and family. Practicing hobbies and other mentally-stimulating activities.
The truth is everyone is right. In as few of words as possible, self-care is taking care of yourself well.
Physically, that looks like taking care of your body.
Sleep isn’t just about getting “enough” sleep. It’s about getting good quality sleep. Here’s some really simple (but not so easy) tips for good quality sleep:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday.
- Get an old-fashioned alarm clock and sleep with your phone in a different room.
I have an app on my Apple watch that automatically tracks when I am sleeping and the quality of my sleep. Every day, my phone tells me how much sleep I got, but that number doesn’t matter. What really matters is how much QUALITY sleep I got. It’s backed by a month of data that the days I am not operating at my optimum are the days I don’t have a sufficient amount of quality sleep.
Physical self-care also includes getting adequate exercise and fueling our bodies well with well-balanced meals consisting of premium foods. If you have four hours a day to scroll through social media, you have 30 minutes to hit a gym and another 30 minutes to spend preparing and eating quality food instead of drive-thru junk.
Mentally, that looks like taking care of your mind.
You don’t need a diagnosis to need to take care of your mind. Mental health is for everyone. Here’s some practical tips for treating your mind well.
- Spend adequate time stimulating your mind with constructive hobbies.
- Stay curious and spend time reading, asking questions and discovering new things.
One of the most critical things I do for mental health is meet with a therapist on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be a therapist. Maybe it’s your pastor or your dad. Whoever it is, let it be someone who will love you right where you are fiercely but will also love you too much to let you stay that way.
Relationally, that looks like taking care of your heart.
Relational health means investing in spending quality time with your friends and family. It means going on date nights with your spouse long after you’re married and intentionally calling your long-distance friends for no reason. It means giving your kids your undivided attention when they need you.
Here’s some practical tips for practicing good relational self-care.
- Plan social outings, but also leave room for spontaneous hangs.
- Diversify your social circles with lots of different people from different settings and backgrounds.
Because I spent so many years sacrificing my own heart and health to take care of others, I have to be very intentional to let others be my friend as much as I am theirs. The reality is none of us are an island. We need to be poured into if we want to have anything to pour into others.
Spiritually, that looks like taking care of your soul.
Spiritual health means investing in your relationship with God and developing in your assurance as His son or daughter. This comes with time and trust. Just like any relationship, the more we invest in our walk with God, the stronger that bond will be. The stronger our walk is, the stronger our faith will be. The stronger our faith is, the easier it will be to surrender what we cannot control to God and approach life from a place of calmness and clarity.
Spiritual self-care isn’t just about prayer and reading our Bibles, although those are great spiritual disciplines and will absolutely help in our becoming spiritually healthy. Here’s some practical tips for developing solid spiritual self-care.
- Spend some intentional time every single day taking in God’s goodness. Look at the sunset, watch the birds, listen to the babbling brook by your house. Appreciate the magic in God’s creativity.
- Make gratitude lists daily. Live in a state of appreciation for all God has and continues to do for you and those in your life.
I’ve developed a few routines that bring me closer to Jesus on a constant basis. I spend time every single day in prayer, but I actually spend a portion of that prayer time in complete silence. I might play some soft worship music in the background but the point is to sit in complete silence and solitude and let God love me. I imagine sitting by Him with His arm around me and he’s just speaking life into me. He’s admiring me and telling me how much He loves me and has a plan for my life far greater than I can even imagine.
Let’s work toward taking care of ourselves so we can take care of those we love better. And then let’s take a shot at loving one another better.
I’ve shared some of the things I do for self-care in this post but some others I do on a regular basis are below. What do you do for self-care?
- I love spending time in coffee shops. I will spend way too much money on a cup of coffee as often as I can just so I can sit and write in coffee shops. Sometimes, I will invite others to join me. But more often than not, I’m by myself and I have been known to spend 12 hours in a coffee shop before. More than once. On the days I do, I am filled up.
- I’m a writer so I love to just sit and spill all my thoughts out on a blank canvas. About 98 percent of what I write never meets anyone else. I just enjoy the process of writing. Why? Because it allows me to get my thoughts out of my own head and brings me to a place of calmness and clarity.
- Meal prep helps me to be very intentional in fueling my body properly. I used to pay someone else to prep for me, then my nutritionist taught me what I should actually be putting into my body. Now I enjoy the process, and the food actually tastes better because I cooked it. I’ve actually developed a love for trying new things and seeing how tasty I can make the healthiest foods.
- I love to read, listen to podcasts and watch talks/sermons online. I listen to audiobooks while I’m in the shower and cooking. I listen to podcasts when I’m exercising. I follow a lot of leaders, entrepreneurs, authors, etc online and I enjoy keeping up with their latest content.
- Serving others feels me up. I have been known to get this out of balance and serve others more than I serve myself, but at the very root of my serving spirit, it feels me up. Serving others allows me to get outside of myself and feel good about making someone else’s life easier.
- About once a week during the summer, I enjoy spending a bit by the pool. I might spend 20 minutes or a few hours, but I always try to soak up some sun. The sun actually gives us Vitamin D, which will always make us feel better.
- Lately, I’ve learned that dogs fill me up. If you have pets, you know what spending time playing or cuddling with them can do for your overall emotional well-being. I’ve actually started house-sitting on a fairly regular basis just so i can spend time with dogs. Dogs release all the endorphins!
Are you taking care of yourself well?