Self-care is important! It impacts our mental health as well as our overall well-being.
By Bret and Kate Ryan – Focus on the Family
Caring for ourselves is critical. We can’t give out of an empty well. If we’ve got no reserves, how can we be there for others? Self-care is something that cannot be over-emphasised enough. If we want to support others effectively, we simply must learn to care for ourselves too. And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be complicated!
Self-care is making sensible choices in the short term that will sustain you in the long term. It includes things like having some time to yourself, ensuring that you’re sleeping well, eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. Those things alone can turn your whole world around.
Kate says that we have to be very careful about what we are meditating on, and that sleep can be elusive when we are facing big stresses in our lives. “Are we ruminating the negative things that are going on in the news? Are we continually replaying the negative things that are going on in our world or are we meditating on God’s truth? There are so many wonderful things you can listen to on apps before you go to sleep that just talk about God’s Word and breathing. Breathing can calm us right down. It’s just the most beautiful calming thing, and that can lead us into a really good place of sleep.”
Brett agrees that sometimes we need a little bit of a direction to get us back on track. “But it’s easier said than done with the sleep”, he says. “We might need to put some patterns of behaviour or routines in place. Things like lowering your technology use and lowering your caffeine and alcohol intake just prior to going to sleep can help. Maybe sometimes we also need to speak to a professional, whether it’s a GP or a counsellor, to help break an unhealthy cycle.”
Brett and Kate both say that exercise is an important part of any self-care routine. Not only does it promote happier hormones, but it also burns a bit of energy too. We all know that if we sit on the couch for hours on end, every part of our body aches, and then when we go and lie down in bed and we’re wide awake. Getting out in nature or going for a walk is good for the soul.
Kate says it’s important that we don’t think of self-care is selfish.
“A lot of people say my job is to serve and to give. But you can’t give if you’ve got nothing left. You’re worse than useless really, when you’re trying to give out of reserves you don’t have. We need to get strong with God and have that vertical relationship going so we can give out horizontally.”
Brett continues that it’s so important to realise that we can’t do it alone. We have to put our hand up to say that we’re not okay.
“Find a faith community, someone that you can trust, someone that you can just share with. They might not be able to solve the problem, but they’re actually coming alongside you. And those of us who may be doing okay need to look out for people who are doing it tough. If we can give them a little bit of release, then they’ll be able to cope with all the circumstances they’re dealing with.”
To check out more of Brett and Kate’s resources on self-care, and care for families, click here.