A Foreign Concept – The Profundity of Self-Care

Who is going to take care of everything else if I am taking care of myself?

I have a friend named Sophia. Sophia and her 4-year-old twins were going back home to Germany to visit. She listened, with one ear while trying to settle the twins down, as the flight attendant went through the standard pre-flight announcements… “If there should be a change in cabin pressure…put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” She thought, “I’ve heard this before, but shouldn’t I try to save my children first? It seems counter-productive and—well…a bit—selfish?” Putting on your oxygen mask first is an important metaphor for those of us who run around taking care of everything and everyone else except ourselves. Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival?  Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else. If Sophia had passed out because she wasn’t getting oxygen, what would have happened to her twins?

If you are sold out or will by any means possible meet the needs of your self-entitled perpetrator and neglecting yourself, you will certainly crash and burn. I can tell you this because it happened to me. On my lunch break one day I went shopping to get dinner ingredients. This was after I’d done a gazillion other things that were expected of me that morning before I went to work. As I rushed through the aisles, I rounded a corner, and everything began to swim around me. Think vertigo. I paused—but only for a millisecond—then continued my shopping. I was so set on being the perfect wife. Newsflash, the perfect wife doesn’t exist. Marriage is not a singles club, it’s a two becomes one club. Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent; it’s simply one tool you can turn to when coping with or healing from an abusive relationship. Self-care is the opposite of self-neglect, the practice of taking an active role in protecting your own well-being.  Selfishness or empty conceit is often expressed by building up oneself while tearing down someone else.

Do you know what happens as you faint/ black out/ swoon/pass out? You lose consciousness because your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. As the oxygen saturation levels in your body drops, you begin to experience hypoxia (low oxygen in your blood and tissues). When your blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen to your tissues to meet your body’s needs and your brain goes without oxygen, things can get ugly quick.  You begin to not think clearly or quickly, feel disorientated, might become nauseous, struggle to pay attention, make decisions, or are unable to remember things. Your basic human functions (like say, the will to live) just completely stop working. You eventually pass out.

“Self-care is a simple concept, yet for many of us, it can be incredibly difficult in practice. It is especially challenging for survivors of abuse, who are often made to feel like they are not worthy of love or care. But the truth is that everyone deserves to be cared for, and we all have the power to be our own caregivers. That’s what self-care is all about; taking care of yourself in ways that feel best to you, focus on your own health and well-being, and bring you comfort.” (Taken from National Domestic Violence website.)

“Self-care is about how we can be our best selves in order to be of support to those around us. For children to lead healthier lives, they need a healthy adult who can act as an emotional buffer to stressful or traumatic experiences. In other words, taking care of my own emotional health and well-being is one of the best investments that I can make for my kids’ health.” Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. MomsRising.org

Is self-care Biblical?

1 Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

Mark 12:31: “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Ephesians 5:29: states: “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…”

Luke 5:16: “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Even Jesus prioritized alone time with the Father. There are MANY examples of Jesus taking this time to recharge. This is a vital part of anyone’s self-care plan – crucial to both spiritual and mental health! Jesus knew His limitations and remembered his priorities.

Luke 10: 38-42; and Mark 2:27: Jesus encouraged others to rest, like when He told Martha not to be anxious about the housework, but to come and relax with Him.

Hebrews 4:9: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God…”

Quality of life

When we were shown by the attending doctors that the ventilator began breathing for my mom at almost 100%, I immediately went into denial. I wanted to crawl into her hospital bed, hold her in my arms, and if possible, trade places with her. I wanted to will away the toxins in her body and the sepsis in her blood and make her whole again. One of her doctors said something that made me think. He said that if we left her in the state she was in, she’d need someone to attend to her indefinitely. She would never get up from the hospital bed again. Once a very self-sufficient woman, she’d never be able to care for herself again. Then he said that she would not have any quality of life. That did it for me. When we’re in such a state that our quality of life is severely diminished, we won’t be able to take care of ourselves.

At its core, self-care is all about being good stewards of our bodies, minds, and souls in order to become the best version of ourselves. In Genesis, God commands us to take care of all His creation. And guess what? That includes us.

Imagine a life where you have more energy, more time, and are more positive. In this scenario you’re more present with others and more creative.  Who doesn’t want that?  What family, work environment and world doesn’t need or want that? What if, in life, you metaphorically put your oxygen mask on first, not because you’re selfish, but because you can do more — for others and for yourself — if you prioritize your own needs.

We need you!                        Yvonne Cole                                                                                                                                             

Please reply back to this post with ways you self-care.                                                          

2 Comments on “A Foreign Concept – The Profundity of Self-Care

  1. Thank you for sharing this – some people make others feel guilty about self care, calling it unchristlike and selfish

  2. Hi Priscilla: You are right, again. Some do make others feel guilty about self-care. It is not selfish, though…if we look at and follow Christ. He took time away to replenish and meet with the Father.

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