15 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

by Mark Votava

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“Many of us were taught that loving ourselves or saying no to others’ requests was a sin of self-centeredness.  In reality, it is foundational to loving our neighbors properly.  Because so many of us have grown up in our faith feeling insecure, unworthy, and unlovable in God’s eyes, we love our neighbor from that broken place instead of a secure, free one.  It’s also why a lot of us are horrible at taking care of ourselves.  We’ve been led to believe that everything in our lives should be about God and others.  We’ve sadly missed the point that our ability to love God and others comes from how we love ourselves.”  Kathy Escobar Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart

1. Read a good book.  Reading can be so nourishing to your soul.  Every time I read it seems my imagination comes alive.  This is so important to get some perspective while finding rest when we are weary, confused, frustrated and disillusioned in life.

2. Get some exercise.  We have neglected the wisdom of the body for too long.  Exercising helps us to connect to our body.  This can help us with stress, anxiety and feeling better about ourselves overall.  A good workout is so healthy for our bodies and brings sanity in everyday life.

3. Journal.  Writing helps us to work through our struggles.  We become more honest and vulnerable on the paper gaining insight to the state of our being.  Journaling is the process of finding clarity in the midst of different seasons of life.

4. Spend some time in silence and solitude.  Sometimes we just need to step back from life so that we can receive, listen and be still.  We are bombarded in life with so many individualistic narratives through the media or we experience so much suffering in life that we need spaces just to lament, find our true self and be honest about our limitations.  Silence and solitude can help us to heal finding some rest in the midst of life.

5. Take a walk in your neighborhood.  Walking always helps me to become more aware of the place I live in the world.  This helps me to engage my senses in my surrounding neighborhood.  I see the world around me with new eyes and begin to listen deeply as I engage my body with the simple task of walking.

6. Get 8 hours of sleep.  Sometimes our bodies are so tired.  Getting a goodnights sleep is so nourishing for us when we are overworked, stressed and discouraged.  Our bodies need rest and sleep sometimes more than we realize.

7. Spend time with a good friend.  Connecting with a good friend always brings encouragement.  God made us for community and we need people we can laugh, cry and connect authentically with.  We need those people who can draw out of us our gifts, qualities and passions.

8. Eat a good meal.  Eating can be nourishing to our bodies.  It is so nice to have a good meal where we feel nourishment, pleasure and satisfaction.  This is one of life’s great gifts to us.

9. Be kind and compassionate toward yourself.  We are mean to ourselves a lot of the time.  We need to learn to be kind and gentle with ourselves.  We need to learn the importance of loving ourselves.

10. Do what is enjoyable to you.  Give yourself permission to find joy, pleasure and happiness in whatever it is that connects to you.  Rejoice in your uniqueness.  Do things that help you to enjoy life without feeling bad about it.

11. Allow yourself to feel negative emotions and welcome what you experience.  Become honest about negative emotions.  Take a welcoming posture without pushing them away.  Listen to these emotions and let them reveal to you something that is hard to face about yourself.

12. Explore creativity and art.  Engage in creativity.  This is healing for our souls.  We are all artists in our own way.  Learn to explore this part of who you are.

13. Listen to your favorite musicians.  Listening to music that connects to you is fun, important and soothing.  There are so many styles of music, so many tones, so many rhythms, so many melodies, so much variety.  Music reminds us of the rhythm of our lives and the melody of our existence.

14. Go see a good movie.  Movies can be relaxing and fun.  Try going to a movie for the sheer enjoyment of it.  Sometimes the narrative in movies can bring a new insight to us through a creative story or can help us to connect with others socially which is also so good for us.

15. Allow yourself to dream again.  It is hard to dream when they have been crushed over and over.  But doing nothing but dreaming is such a subversive practice in our time.  Dreaming can be difficult and thought impractical by those who get along in the “real world,” but is so essential to the flourishing of life within us.

How have you taken care of yourself today?