Self-Care: What It Really Means

Self-care is one of the latest hashtags to take the world wide web by storm. Particularly among the female genre, this new trend appears to be a hot topic that has women of all ethnicities and ages scheduling time for herself. All over social media, there is no shortage of pictures of women captioned with #selfcare. Most of these snapshots show a lady, on any given day, having a day at the spa, enjoying a manicure, pedicure, facial, and body massage. They show women in beauty salons, having their mane done up by a hair professional, and we see shopping sprees, girls’ trips, and nights out on the town, all in the name of self-care.

While all of those things are absolutely great to enjoy and often necessary for the upkeep of outer appearance and for letting your hair down every now and again, do they really sum up the totality of what self-care truly is?

For me, the answer is no. Self-care is far more than superficial enjoyment. Quite honestly, those perks are only a minute fraction of what caring for one’s self really looks like and consists of. Don’t get me wrong, because, chile, I am all for relaxing in a massage chair while having my feet rubbed and scrubbed – away from the demands of day-to-day life, when all of the attention is on me and my needs in that moment; however, let’s be clear here: You can go to the spa every week, never miss a hair, nails, and feet appointment, take a vacation every month, and have a closet full of clothes and shoes, yet still not have a clue how to care for yourself. You can be very well kept on the outside and dying on the inside.

Self refers to the totality of one’s being. Only focusing on the care of the exterior of self completely ignores the biggest components of self, which are inward – mind, body, and spirit. We do ourselves a disservice to define self-care according to the perception of the social world, because the world’s simple, superficial system will have you cute, but as a carcass inside. Our ultimate goal should be to have actual wholeness, not just a portion, or merely a picture of it.

So, what is self-care? It means different things to different people, but a general definition I personally like comes from psychcentral.com: Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It is the key to living a balanced life. See? It’s not just about the cutesy stuff. Also, I must note, that self-care is not selfish. It is essential and necessary for your overall well-being. Some people hear the word “self” and automatically attribute that to selfishness or being self-centered. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you don’t give time, attention, and energy to yourself, who will? While it is absolutely noble to be others-focused, it is just as important, if not more, to also be self-focused. I mean, do you not know that your body (Yourself!) is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)? Temples require care!

So, sis, beyond your regular trip to the beauty salon, how are you implementing a deeper meaning of self-care into your life, to ensure that you can be and become your best self in all areas of your existence?

How are you caring for your mind? “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8

What are you filling your mind with? Are you intentional about feeding your mind the nutrients it needs to be healthy and strong? Are you reading God’s word? Are you having healthy conversations? Are you eating brain foods? Are you watching or listening to inappropriate media? What do you spend your time thinking about? Do you need to see a therapist/counselor/spiritual advisor to help you work through toxicity in your mind? Do you need to detox from too much negative social media?

Your mind is a part of the center of your being. Failing to properly care for it keeps you off balance and out of true alignment with who you were created to be.

How are you caring for your body? “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health…” -3 John 1:2

Physical care is one of the biggest areas where many women fail to care for themselves. I have certainly been guilty. I realized, however, that without my body, there is no me, and when I neglect myself physically, it causes avoidable ailments, illnesses, and deficiencies. What are you eating? Are you active? How many people/spirits are you allowing to enter/use your body [sexually]? Are you ignoring symptoms of sickness? Are you keeping doctor’s appointments and getting necessary checkups and examinations? If you’ve been prescribed medications for specific illnesses, are you taking your medicines as you should? Do you rest when your body feels tired, or do you push yourself until you collapse from exhaustion?

Your health should be a top priority. Period. When your body is not in shape – and I’m not referring to the actual shape of your body, because that differs individually, and figure doesn’t determine fitness – you are not able to operate at the optimum of your potential. You are destined for greatness, but you need your body to get there and, to get there, your body needs to be healthy so that it may function without unnecessary limitations.

How are you caring for your spirit? “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

Your heart/spirit is the center of your being. It is the part of you that is the driving force behind every single thing you do, great or small. Your spirit determines your thoughts. Your spirit determines your actions. Your spirit effects your well-being. Your spirit controls your peace. Your spirit determines who you are and how you show up in the world. Can you see why it is so important to care for it?

How do you care for your spirit or guard your heart? Be mindful of your connections. What kind of spirit does the people connected to you possess, because association brings about assimilation? Spirits transfer. Develop a spiritual regimen. Regularly spend time in stillness and prayer with God and seek to be filled with the fruit of His spirit? Be quick to forgive. Whew! Listen, I know that’s not always easy to do, and especially not quickly, but holding on to offenses, grudges, and unforgiveness is poisonous to your spirit. Unforgiveness breeds hatred, bitterness, spite, and rage. You have to give that stuff over to the Lord and let him fight for you. He is your avenger (Romans 12:19). Holding on to that kind of venom will rob you of peace and joy. That’s not God’s will for your life.

Set boundaries. Determine where you draw the line in how you give of yourself to others and how you allow others to treat you. It’s okay to say no or to walk away when something doesn’t feel right or requires more than you are able or willing to give. Cut toxic ties. Simply put: If it’s draining the life out of you and consistently disrupting your inner peace, it’s not good for your spirit. Heal. There is no one on this earth that has escaped being hurt in some deep way. It’s a part of life. There’s nothing you can do to change anything that has ever happened to you, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to heal. Whatever that process looks like for you, go through it. Hurt hinders. Pain paralyzes. Healing restores hope.

How are you caring for your character? Holding yourself accountable is also a part of self-care. Calling your own self to the carpet, acknowledging your faults, and doing the necessary work to improve is vital. The this is just how I am narrative or always blaming others for your mishaps is self-abuse. It keeps you stuck and does not allow you to grow, develop, learn, or evolve. We should constantly assess ourselves -our behaviors, our habits, our attitudes, how others experience us, and our overall personal vibe - and make changes or adjustments where and when necessary.

I could go on and on about examples of self-care, because its definition spans so wide. If you take nothing else from what you’ve read here, hear this: Self-care simply means to be careful with you. You are precious cargo, a rare commodity, and you must be handled with care. Self-care means that you love and value yourself, and you are committed to investing into whatever is necessary to ensure you can wholly be your best self — for God, for yourself, for your family, for your purpose. Aside from our loving Father God, no one else can care for you better than you. Your well-being, in every area of your life, is your responsibility. Make it your priority.