When we are kind and generous with ourselves, we can pour kindness and love into others.
Take time and take care of yourself, because you are God’s beloved.
Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who comes from God and dwells inside of you? You do not own yourself. You have been purchased at a great price, so use your body to bring glory to God!
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
“Caring for our own hearts isn’t selfishness, it’s how we begin to love.” John Eldredge
When chronic illness, mental illness, or chronic pain is a constant companion, life can feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important for us to be kind and generous with ourselves. Intentional kindness becomes kindness multiplied when we practice these five types of self-care for our bodies, minds, souls, emotions, and in community.
SELF-CARE FOR YOUR BODY
Practicing physical self-care means showing simple kindness to our bodies, giving them what they need, and doing things that help us live well. We can be better stewards of the bodies God gave us and be better prepared to serve in the unique ways God created for each of us when we can take to heart Romans 12:1:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God— this is your true and proper worship.
SELF-CARE FOR YOUR MIND
Mental self-care means exercising our brains, keeping our minds sharp, redirecting our thoughts, and focusing on what is positive and true. Sometimes feelings of despair or focusing on difficulties and “what ifs” can spiral into a negative loop. Romans 12:2 gives us hope of breaking those cycles and moving forward:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.
SELF-CARE FOR YOUR SOUL
Spiritual self-care can help us draw closer to the Lord, grow in faith, and communicate with Him on a deeper level. When it seems like our thoughts and emotions are all over the place, we can find refuge in His Word as we listen for God’s voice, discovering His comfort and steady guidance. We can cling to Him through the words of Psalm 63:7-8:
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
SELF-CARE FOR YOUR EMOTIONS
Emotional self-care helps us to identify what we’re really feeling and how to express it in healthy ways. We can start by bringing what we feel to God, trusting Him with it all, and leaning into His Presence (as we read in Psalm 62:8):
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
SELF-CARE INCLUDES COMMUNITY
Christian community is rooted in love, nourished in prayer, and strengthened in courageous vulnerability as we extend and receive love, kindness, and compassion. We can receive God’s comfort from others just as it says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
A PLACE TO BEGIN
There are many ways to practice self-care. Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Listen to your body. It is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Respect what it tells you by not pushing past its limits.
- Do something physically soothing. Snuggle under a cozy blanket, lay down with a soft pillow, take a warm bath, soak your feet, apply heat, or give yourself a hug. Tune in to how relaxing it feels and settle into that place.
- When your mind is stuck, distract yourself by counting backward from 100 by 7s or by counting colors. Choose one color and count each item of that color in the room. Then choose another color, and so on.
- Make a list of Bible verses, quotes, and encouraging words to refocus anxious or negative thoughts circling in your mind. Read the list often and write your favorites on notecards, tape them to your mirror, or save them to your phone.
- Listen to music that resonates with how you feel, relaxes you, lifts your heart, or puts a smile on your face. Think of it as oxygen for the soul.
- Write in a journal. There are no rules for journaling. Just spill your heart. Use the Emotions Wheel to identify what you’re feeling, then journal your thoughts.
- Communicate your needs. Perhaps you need someone to check in with you — to ask how you are genuinely doing and be able to support you no matter what you have to say.
- Bond with a loved one. Choose something you both like. Play a game, work on a project, share jokes, or challenge each other to trivia.
- Reach for the Lord in a way that perhaps you never have before, lean into His arms, and accept His grace, mercy, and kindness.
- Be creative. Choose a Bible verse, then write a poem about it, create word art, cut words from magazines, or draw an illustration as you discover His inspiration.
Today, you’re invited to take the first step and be intentionally kind to yourself. (Perhaps on a different day or another week, you might step into another area of life.) Use these suggestions as a springboard to brainstorm other ideas that are a good fit for you. Be patient with yourself, but plod on — in ways that work for you. Choose to be generous with yourself, rest in Jesus, and make self-care a part of your everyday life.
Self-Care • Body & Community
Practicing physical self-care is showing your body simple kindness, generously giving it what it needs, and doing things that help you live well. Community is rooted in love, nourished in prayer, and strengthened in courageous vulnerability as we extend and receive love, kindness, and compassion.
Self-Care for your Emotions & Mind
Exercise your brain, keep your mind sharp, redirect your thoughts, and focus on what is positive and true with these ideas. Emotional self-care helps us to identify what we’re feeling and how to express it in healthy ways.
Self-Care for your Soul
Spend a little time getting to know God better — who He is, what He’s like, how He feels about us, and how He acts toward His creation. Pray through these verses, asking God where to grow from here.
STEP INTO SELF-CARE
Laughter is Good Medicine!
Laughter is a respite from the difficulties and unexpected challenges of chronic illness, mental illness, chronic pain, and disability. Humor can become an oasis of God’s perfect peace and joy in the midst of life’s storms.
How do you really feel?
When we give ourselves permission to ask the question "How do I really feel?", we may notice the emotional nuances of feeling bad, afraid, angry, disgusted, sad, happy, and surprised.
In the Midst of Grief
Navigating loss, suffering, pain and sorrow.
Grief is no stranger to those of us affected by chronic illness, pain, and suffering. While there are no rules for grieving chronic loss, there is a road map and there are fellow travelers ahead and behind us on the journey. Grief often precedes growth.