This is what self-care truly is. It's caring for yourself so you can meet (and not avoid) the world at its worst, and remain who you are.
— Kris Marshall (@revkris) June 30, 2016
I read a tweet from a friend of mine, Rev. Kris Marshall, about self-care. Kris is a Pastor and a friend in Reno, Nevada. She has a wonderful dream about how our world can look with a little more love in between people, shares great perspectives from different people about a variety of topics, and takes funny pictures of her dog.
It’s important to know that I like to talk about self-care, so I enjoy it when other people use that phrase.
Second, I’m not always great at practicing self-care. I am getting much better at knowing when it’s time to take care of myself, but I still think I can “work through it” more often than not.
What I have realized in the month since reading this, is that Kris gave me an easily identifiable way to know when it is time for self-care. To be more precise, this is probably a great indicator of when it is just past the time when I needed self-care.
If I am meeting something in the world: stress, hurt, fear, etc. and I am having difficulty remaining the best of who I am… I have probably gone too long without taking care of myself. Some days, this could be a matter of hours. At other times, I may be fine for weeks.
It may be helpful here to understand what I mean by self-care. It can be short or long, active or calm, individual or with a group,.. anything that allows you to come back to your best self, and hopefully back to a place where you know you are loved. I have a previous post that discusses this a bit more: https://journey.upperroom.org/2015/12/18/self-care/.
Here’s an example from my life right now: this summer has brought several months of many transitions – and big ones at that. Most of the transitions are wonderful, a few are not. All of them require me to change significant portions of how I live my daily life. Over the last couple months I have worked long hours, spent a large amount of time with the people I value most, neglected a few people along the way, I have been focused on as many things as I could at any one time and still forgotten about others, and I have been surrounded by great people who have supported all the change that has come and is still coming. Then, just as the end of this season is in sight, one more big thing is going to change – something that I thought was stable – and it has caused me to question some of what I am doing.
This is that moment Kris described. The world (not even at its worst, but just with dramatic change) keeps happening and keeps meeting me. After enough meetings with the world’s change, I found myself wanting to avoid it and not sure of how I could be my best self through it. That’s the moment I knew I’ve been trying to work through it for too long.
Maybe it was the vacation I missed, or the people I neglected to spend time with, or the days I didn’t go outside that caused me to reach this point. Any one of those things could have helped. Now that I am doing some of them, it is helping. But my point is not “look at how self-care saved me!” What I have learned through this is how to be more attentive to myself to avoid running out of ability to be my best self when it really matters. The world isn’t going to stop meeting me, so it is important that I control the piece of that meeting that I can control: what self I bring to the meeting.
Today I’m bringing a better piece of myself to the changes than I was three weeks ago, and certainly better than I was two months ago. I’d like to do that again tomorrow. That’s why I’ll be taking some time today for self-care.
Take some time to think about why you care for yourself. Kris provided a beautiful reason that makes sense to me. You are welcome to adopt that as your reason too. You may already have another reason that is more helpful to you. However you arrive at one, when you think you have a reason talk with someone else about it. Ask that person if he or she has a reason. Be willing to discuss yours, and be willing to listen to his or hers. That may be self-care already.