The idea of self-care is not a new one. It has historical roots in medicine, psychology, and politics. In fact, the Black Panther Party in the 1960’s included self-care in their messaging. This group took the idea from the medical community, who first developed it during the 1950s, and brought it into the public’s mind and eye through active deeds such as community restoration on both a group and an individual level. In addition, they promoted activities such as meditation and yoga to assist individuals in dealing with institutionalization, post-traumatic stress disorder, daily injustices, and general life stressors.
Unfortunately, due to the mainstream acceptance and subsequent watering down of the idea, many hear self-care and dismiss it as trivial, if not selfish. Some even consider it a luxury for those who can afford to make the time. However, the idea that self-care is essential to life recently made a resurgence during the summer months of 2020, amid a global pandemic, a contentious presidential election, and social unrest. At this time, people realized that their boundaries were not only blurred but, in some cases, completely eradicated. As a result, an alarm sounded for people to take a step back, examine themselves, explore their values, and determine what truly mattered.
Scriptures also remind us of the need to take pause. In Genesis 2:2, we see how the Lord responds to continuous work: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” Our creator demonstrates by example the need to rest. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He provides us with a place to rest. In our hurried, harried lifestyles, we are no longer leaning on these passages and others to sustain us through the challenges.
The work that we do, the work that makes up our calling, the work that is our purpose, is not easy. This work requires growth and stretching in uncommon ways for us as individuals. Acknowledging our inability to do this work by our own power enables us to care for our minds so we can serve in deed. Those who attempt to do great work in their own power often see failure, not success. Those who attempt to do great work in their own power feel overwhelmed, not victorious. Those who attempt to do great work without counting the cost find themselves bankrupt, not prosperous.
A quick google search for self-care choices, options, and examples elicits a laundry list of ideas ranging from a walk in nature to bubble baths. While some of these options provide a temporal experience of self-care, we know that we need something more. The “something more” intangible keeps us longing and growing weary in the day-to-day drudgery of activity. Caring for our minds is complicated, yet so very simple. It requires a return to the basics of faith that brought us to faith in the first place. The antiquated spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude, fasting, prayers, meditation, and worship all still have a place in our current society.
Step One: Know Your Limitations
To care for one’s mind first means that we must know that we are but dust (Psalm 103:14). This is not a morbid recognition of our mortality. On the contrary, it recognizes our God-given, human limitations. For example, some people may expect to do all things for all who inquire. Others may even have people in their lives who request, if not outright demand, such sacrifices. However, it is up to us to know that this is not possible. At least, not always or at all times.
Step Two: Refuel with Spiritual Disciplines
The second step requires a time of refueling. Those antiquated spiritual disciplines provide refueling. We live in a world that drains. We live in a world that demands. We live in a world that depletes. Nevertheless, we also have access to a world that fills. We have access to a world that offers. We have access to a world that replenishes. We must choose, however, to access this world. This choice is like breathing. You can only hold your breath for so long before your body bursts to breathe. Choosing daily to engage in a discipline can take seconds or hours depending on your need and provides all you need to refuel and continue your task. Do not neglect this aspect of our being. (Now that is a demand and a requirement.)
Step Three: Extend Grace to Yourself and Others
The third and final step is an extension of grace. Far too often, we offer grace to others and forsake this gift for ourselves. The Lord came not just for the lost but also the found. He provides for His children all that they need. Do not just seek His face or His hand, but also seek what He holds in His hand, His offering of grace. Grace makes up for our limitations. It is the completion of the circle. We recognize that we are limited human beings. We say yes to the call. We put our hands to the plow or task before us. We feel our zeal and energy depleting. We turn to the disciplines to refuel. God refuels and replenishes us, and while doing this, He extends His grace toward us. This grace makes up the difference between our intent and our behaviors. This grace fills in where we are too weary. This grace provides for us all that we need to continue forward. This grace reminds us that God cares more about us than the work He calls us to do. In addition, we replenish ourselves to do the work that He calls us to complete. And the circle continues. Choose today to step into the circle as you persevere in the call of your life.
Dr. Yvonne Glass holds her doctorate from Kent State University in Counselor Education and Supervision. She brings to the position over 15 years of clinical experience in various settings, including working within a school system, private practice, and professional advocacy. Her passions include facilitating the incorporation of faith into the counseling experience. Her studies examine how religiosity positively impacts the daily stressors of life. Through various workshops for clergy, laypersons, paraprofessionals, and professionals, she has been a voice for the practice of effective, clinical, mental health counseling.
Dr. Glass desires to see multiple agencies come together to collaborate providing the best possible care for clients. To assist in this desire, she has collaborated with different agencies including law enforcement, school administration, educators, medical professionals, and social service agencies. It is her goal to see students prepared for the conversation of how mental health is a vital key in the success of our society. She has experience in counseling children and adolescents, marriage counseling, case conceptualization, supervision, ethics, multicultural counseling, group counseling, diagnosis, and integrating spirituality into the counseling process.
Relationships are very significant and Dr. Glass values them greatly. In addition to the one she has with the Lord, she cherishes time with her husband, four children, and extended family, the church. She serves alongside her husband at a local church and within a larger fellowship of churches.