“Take care of yourself” is a common way that we say good-bye to a friend. While it may be said without much thought or with deep emotion, think for a few moments about how important it really is to take care of yourself…
If you are not taking care of your inner dialogue, you will not be able to offer strength to those around you.
If you are not taking care of your physical health, you will not have the capacity to give yourself to important people and projects in your life.
If you are not taking care of getting spiritually recharged, you will be easily overwhelmed and discouraged.
I realize that some people react to the concept of self-care because they feel it may be selfish or make them self-centered. The opposite is actually true. The better you take care of yourself, the greater your potential ability to be of use to others and to God. The healthier you become, the more people respect and take you seriously. The more vitality you have, the greater your opportunities and the greater your ability to pursue opportunities.
Roy Oswald, in the book shown below, elaborates on several ways that we can take care of ourselves so that we do not become cynical, self-deprecating, islolated, or dull. I do not advocate all of his methods, but the following 15 steps that I have adapted from Oswald will have redemptive value for you:
- Knowing when to withdraw– “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray” (Mt. 14:22).
- Accessing a support group, spiritual director or Christian therapist– Spend time with people that are competent, sensitive and safe.
- Doing less yet more important work– Learn to say ‘no’ to the least important so you can say ‘yes’ to projects with the highest potential of return.
- Examining false self-perceptions– Challenge self-deprecating thoughts and correct them with God’s truth.
- Limiting the volume of major changes/social adjustments in your life– Some stressors are out of our control and some are within our control.
- Taking action steps to gain control over your environment/situation– You always have options and you will be energized as you move towards better options.
- Giving yourself the opportunity to be ‘out of role’– Find times, places and people with whom you do not have to be ‘on’ and allow yourself to decompress.
- Allowing yourself to grieve when your experience loss– The sooner we accept the reality of grieving loss the sooner we will be free from it.
- Correcting dysfunctional relationships between yourself and work– Whether it is relational strain or over-commitment take steps to bring your work life back into balance.
- Tempering idealism with a generous dose of reality– Disappointments lose some of their effect when you acknowledge that they exist and that you can recover from them.
- Refusing to accept the judgments of chronically negative people– Evaluate and discard judgments that do not align with who God made you to be.
- Practising breathing prayer– To relax pray a simple prayer as you inhale and exhale such as, “God, you are good” or “Thank you, Lord Jesus”.
- Taking time to play, rest and exercise– Do activities that are good for you and put a twinkle back in your eye.
- Expressing your needs in a firm, clear and non-hostile manner– Find ways to communicate with those closest to you.
- Developing a sense of humour– Laughter is truly a great medicine.
One final inspiring quote from Oswald: “Who and what we are is our most effective tool”!
Let’s pay attention to who we are becoming- for that is the most powerful message we preach to the world.