Do you have a self-care routine?
I recently heard an analogy where self-care was compared to a bowl of fruit. Although we start with a large bowl in the morning, throughout the day we give each piece away.
Makes sense. We take care of our children. And we take care of our jobs, our co-workers, our family, our friends.
We do laundry;
run TO meetings;
remember doctor’s appointments;
And the list goes on.
These activities take a certain amount of energy and at the end of the day, we’re peering into the bowl seeing if there’s any left for us.
According to the analogy, to be happy and refreshed we need to fill it up again.
But the real question is – what are we “filling” ourselves up with again? Are the activities ones that will truly rejuvenate us? Or are they self-serving ones that only provide a quick high and lead to buyer’s remorse?
The Only Self-Care Routine You Need
But let’s back up for a moment.
I’m not saying we should run ourselves into the ground each day either.
We are called to care for ourselves. But we only need to worry about the basics. The problem is many of us are neglecting those and hoping a pedicure or a good book can make up the difference.
What does the Bible Say About Self-Care?
Here are the basic needs the Bible talks about. And while they may seem VERY basic, stick with me for a minute while we break them down. Consider this your Self-Care Checklist.
1.) Get enough sleep.
2.) Eat nourishing food.
3.) Listen for God’s voice and direction.
The story of Elijah in 1 Kings offers practical advice on how to create a self-care routine that will give us energy for our tasks.
Let me set the stage.
Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, loved her false gods of Baal. At one point, she brought 800 Baal prophets to Israel and at the same time, killed every Jewish prophet until only Elijah was left.
Elijah then challenged all 800 of the false prophets to prove their gods were real. Both sides were to prepare an offering and whichever god could light it on fire was the true God.
Well, after some time the false gods failed to light their offering on fire.
But before calling on God for his offering, he first poured water all over it. He then called out to God and He immediately set the offering on fire for all to see. Elijah then ordered the people to kill the false prophets.
Not surprisingly, Jezebel was very angry and vowed to kill Elijah. What is surprising is that after this huge demonstration from God, Elijah ran away. Instead of growing in confidence he fell into despair. It isn’t that He didn’t believe God could do mighty works – but instead – was depressed that Queen Jezebel and King Ahab were not repenting. If they didn’t after that display, they never would and the false gods of Baal would take over again.
Lessons about a Self-Care Routine From Elijah
When the story picks up, Elijah is hiding under a tree and calls out to God to kill him. He is depressed with the outcome and knows Jezebel is out to kill him.
1 Kings 19: 5-8 then says, “And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” He looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.’ And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.”
To restore his energy, Elijah needed to take care of the basics. He needed rest and food. And then he needed more rest. Finally, he gained the strength he needed to go on another 40 days and 40 nights.
I keep returning to this story to remind myself that while sleep and nourishing food may seem basic, many weeks I fail to make them a priority in my life.
My Self-Care Checklist
Whether tired or not (but I’m usually tired because #momlife) I go to bed at 10 pm every night. I try to put away my phone as much as possible and instead read a chapter in a book to help me sleep. Sometimes I take a bath to help create good night’s rest.
On the food side, I keep it simple. I’ve never been a fan of fad diets or “lifestyles,” but instead, I try to get at least three full servings of vegetables every day and two full servings of fruit. I also try to limit sugar, processed foods, and dairy and go for at least a 30-minute walk each day.
Otherwise, I don’t stress about calories, or whether I ate pizza, or joining the latest gym.
I will never have a perfect body or be able to run a mile without getting winded (not that I’ve tried). But I do have enough strength and energy to take care of my family, my work, and whatever other tasks God gives me that day. And for that I am grateful. (For more help, check out this post on how to find a better work-rest balance.)
But there’s more to the story.
Food and rest can only take care of our physical needs. Elijah needed a little soul care as well.
After his journey, Elijah came to a cave and a heard “voice from the Lord” asking him why he was running away and hiding.
Elijah told Him he had given his all for the Lord and it didn’t make a difference because the people would turn back to the false gods. On top of that, the queen was out to kill him. In response, the voice told him to go to the mountain and stand before the Lord.
Well, a great wind came up (we’re talking a tornado-type wind!) but God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake struck but God was not in the earthquake. Nor was he in a great fire that appeared after.
But after the fire there was a low whisper and Elijah knew God was in the whisper, so he left the cave to go stand before God.
And when He did, God spoke to Him and gave him his next instructions.
How to Listen for God
So often we’re caught up in the busyness of our life that while we’d love to hear from God more often, we can’t above the noise. If only He’d shout to us!
But God isn’t always in the winds, earthquakes, and fires, Often, He’s in the daily whispers. He asks us to lean in and really listen to get our next instructions too.
This is a challenge to all of us to quiet our lives enough to be able to listen to God instead of filling our hours, days, and weeks with activity.
Nowadays, we use self-care as a quick-fix to our lives. But it can never provide true rest and restoration. The activities themselves can never make us happy.
We All Need a Little Soul-Care Too.
On a physical level, we – and I’m preaching to myself – need to take better care of our bodies but not obsess over them. On a spiritual level, we need to quiet our lives enough to actually be able to hear from God.
Imagine a life where our bodies are strong and capable and we don’t compare ourselves to each other. And imagine a life where we create space in our busy lives to be able to hear from God and what He wants us to do next. That’s the kind of self-care routine I need in my life. That’s the kind of soul-care routine I need too.
(Here’s a great article on what the Bible says about self-care to help in this area too.)
Which one of these ‘basic” self-care routines do you need to focus more on this week? I’ll be focusing on all three.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. ( John 15: 5-6)