A Guest blog by Emily Sue Allen
By the end of the day, I’m entirely at the end of myself.
I’m ready for chocolate and looking for a way to numb my mind from the many worries whizzing through it.
My large brood of kids are finally in bed, and while I’m thankful for the quiet around me, I’m tired all the way through my bones.
Instead of tackling the list of creative projects I have dreamed of doing with this free time, I collapse into the couch, leaving many things left undone to stare at a screen for a while.
Hours later, when I finally peel myself off the couch, I am no better off than when I started.
Sure, I “took a load off” for a while, and possibly gained a meager amount of mental space from the flurry of a long and raucous day with kids, but I also land in bed later than usual.
I know I’ll soon start the next day running on fumes and a carb-heavy breakfast.
The fact is – I crave a kind of rest I haven’t experienced in years, and it often seems like this cycle of feeling chronically depleted has no end in sight.
And yet, I’ve honestly thought the term self-care was kind of lame.
In fact, any mention of self-care made me cringe a little as I imagined a woman (with fully-done makeup and a perfectly coiffed updo) knocking back a glass of wine in a dreamy claw-foot tub with voluminous bubbles peeking over the rim.
I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what I didn’t like about it. I mean, a bath sounds nice, and even though I’m not a wine-drinker myself, I know plenty of people who enjoy a glass now and then.
I started wondering why all the chatter about self-care irritated me so much?
Until, one day it hit me.
Many of the self-care images I see in magazines and on television depict women who want to or need to escape the reality and responsibilities of their lives. These images encourage women to indulge themselves in some momentary pleasure or product that promises make their lives instantly better.
Unfortunately, many of these self-care promises barely skim the surface of a much deeper issue: There is no one-time spa escape or miracle product that touches the more serious need for a woman to be revived and replenished from the inside out.
Why a Christian View of Self-Care is More About Stewardship than Indulgence
I want to propose that self-care, and perhaps more specifically soul-care, is essential for believers, and is something that Christian women must seek wisdom and guidance from the Lord about.
This form of self-care is not about escape or indulgence; it is a substantial, intentional regard for our bodies as a temple of God.
Self-care is not a superfluous, unimportant buzzword. Self-care is a matter of stewardship—a faithful partnership with God to care for our whole selves.Self-care is not a superfluous, unimportant buzzword. Self-care is a matter of stewardship—a faithful partnership with God to care for our whole selves.
7 Things Christian Women Need to Know About Self-Care
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
1) Self-Care for Christians is about making the daily decision to nourish yourself through the Word of God, eating nourishing foods, and investing in your overall well-being. This may result in intentionally declining the promise of a “quick fix” product or program and instead seeking out the ways that God provides for you.
2) Self-care is not selfish nor indulgent when it’s actively following and cooperating with God’s redemptive work in you.
3) Engaging in self-care should provide more than momentary relief. Self-care involves making small choices and building healthy habits that replenish your mind, body, and soul.
4) Proper self-care shouldn’t only begin on the physical level, but begin at the soul-level with God in prayer, study of Scripture, and the accountability and encouragement of other believers.
5) Many self-care habits are not “fun”. Taking vitamins, catching up on untended dental work, getting started with exercise, and choosing a reasonable bedtime can all feel like “chores”, but each one is a task that makes a small investment in your overall well-being.
6) Practicing self-care allows you to deeply invest in meeting the needs of others as well as your own. As you grow in this area, you will become well-equipped to pour out from the abundance in your own life. When we neglect our basic needs for too long , we will inevitably burn out and no longer be able to serve others in the same capacity.
7) Self-Care can be simple, but it isn’t always easy. Sometimes it requires delayed gratification, self-discipline, facing your shame, and humbling yourself before God in order to take steps in the right direction.
6 Ways to Practice Substantial, Restorative Self-Care as a Christian Woman
“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6 ESV
Ultimately, self-care is not a work we do in ourselves. God does the work in us, we make the space for it to happen, and we participate in that good work by taking hold of the various ways God has supplied sustenance to our minds, bodies, and souls.Ultimately, self-care is not a work we do in ourselves. It's a work God does in us.
Incorporating life-giving and restorative habits into our lives is a lovely way to honor the gift we’ve been given to journey with God this side of heaven.
1) Start the day in prayer and reading scripture to set your mind on the things of God.
2) Recognize your body is a temple of the holy spirit, as such, it is a holy and worthwhile pursuit to deeply nourish yourself through the avenues God has provided, through nourishing meals, adequate sleep, and appropriate margin in your calendar.
3) See your self-care habits as an opportunity to faithfully steward your health and well-being for God’s glory, not as indulgent ways to escape your responsibilities.
4) Set healthy boundaries in relationships, and don’t be afraid to reconcile with someone you’ve had a conflict with. Make peace where there has been discord. Rom. 12:18
5) Ask God for wisdom about how you can proactively reduce non-essential things in your life to make space for restorative, intentional habits that serve you well.
6) Learn about how to live in a manner worthy of your calling as a child of God through this free 31-day online Bible study.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5 ESV
Some Final Thoughts on Self-Care for Christian Women
As women, we are gravely depleted and worn out because we absorb trauma, relational discord, financial stress, and the lion’s share of worry when raising children.
All too often, we simply don’t nourish ourselves with restorative habits to counterbalance the difficult things we experience.
The cumulative depletion that results from years of neglecting these deeper needs for adequate rest, healthy food, mental space and a substantial dependence on God for what enlivens a woman’s soul ultimately robs us of the true joy God offers us the midst of our circumstances.
God cares for our needs and has the abundance of heaven to offer us, but we cannot be passive recipients of His attention and provision and expect to get the rest we are looking for.
We must take responsibility for our side of the equation on a daily basis. Consistently taking up the task of not only living within your personal limits but also drawing deep from the well of God’s wisdom for your life.
What is one way you could shift your self-care priorities to reflect your pursuit of Christ instead of cultivating empty habits that inhibit Christian stewardship?
-Emily Sue Allen
Emily Sue Allen is the founder of the Kindred Mom blog and host of the Kindred Mom podcast. Soul care for moms and helping women find joy in the midst of their motherhood journey are among her greatest passions. She is a contemplative, creative soul who celebrates the beauty of a humble, handmade life and deeply values the power of encouragement. Connect with Emily and the Kindred Mom community on Instagram and Facebook.