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Wondering what is Self-care? Self-care is a topic that has been getting a lot of buzz lately, especially as we’ve been navigating an extremely stressful year. There are blog posts about getting massages, long baths, and glasses of wine, Instagram captions encouraging you to eat healthily and exercise, and pastors encouraging you to read your Bible more and find creative ways to connect to your faith community. Everyone seems to have a different take on what exactly self-care is. 

When you struggle with anxiety and are looking for ways to cope with anxiety, it’s normal to want a five-step program to make it go away. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “If I can just do ____ well enough, then it will all magically get better.” But the truth is, this tactic rarely works, and you’re left feeling like there is another area where you’ve “failed.” With insult added to injury, self-care becomes just another thing that you are anxious about.

Anxiety is rooted in fears of not being enough and feeling ill-equipped to handle the challenges that you are currently facing or might face in the future. Overcoming these beliefs takes time, support, and more than one day off after a year from being over-worked. It might require rethinking how you care for yourself as you do the hard work of coping with anxious thoughts. The first step is recognizing that self-care can look dramatically different depending on the week, day, or hour.

What is Self-Care?

A supervisor recently said to me, “Self-care is the activity we engage in when we are being compassionate with ourselves.” This statement completely changed how I view self-care because it creates so much more freedom. Self-care isn’t a check-list that we can pass or fail. Self-care isn’t an indulgent evening that is supposed to fix all our worries. It is choosing to give ourselves grace and being in tune with what we need. It is a posture when approaching life instead of a locked-in, specific set of activities. It can be long baths, time in Scripture, or watching Netflix. But it can also be doing a hard workout because your body needs movement. It can be permitting yourself to have a shorter quiet time on a given day because you know God loves you and is not condemning you. Self-care can also be going to therapy to receive much-needed healing. Approaching self-care with an attitude of grace for yourself opens up space for real peace to settle in. It replaces a to-do list with something sustainable that can be carried from season to season and creates a gentle, kind, and honoring practice for yourself. Your whole self. You, who need social, physical, emotional, and spiritual rest. You deserve healing from anxiety and the ongoing journey towards peace, not a quick fix.   I encourage you to start today with the question: “What activities can I do today that would be compassionate towards myself?”