True Self-Care

self care

the back of a small cabin and bench with a view of prairie and hills in the distance; Photo by Rachael Keefe.

What are you doing for yourself this week? Will you make time for your favorite hobby or activity? Will join in a communal activity or two? Will you take a nap? Will you take some time to be still and take in the beauty of Creation? What nurtures you, restores you, or gives you rest? 

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Self-care is a term we hear often these days. Everyone is carrying more stress than ever before. We are watching COVID numbers rise again. Many of us have serious concerns about the midterm elections. Add to this environmental issues, Russia, economics, and so much more. Who among us wouldn’t benefit from improved self-care?

I just spent a week camping at Frontenac State Park by myself. I hiked in the woods, along the lake, and through prairie every day, often twice a day. I cooked my meals over a campfire. I read books and watched movies when I wasn’t just taking in the beauty of the world around me. I didn’t realize how much I needed to decompress until I was there.

For me, last week was truly a week of self-care. It wasn’t accidental; it was intentional. Many people claim to be doing things as self-care. You know, plunking down in front of the TV and just kind of zoning out. Taking a day or more off from the usual routine without any thought to intentional activities of rest and renewal.

It’s the intention that matters. Netflix can be self-care if we choose to watch something that nurtures some part of us. Napping is self-care when we make the choice to nap rather than using napping to avoid stress. Cooking or baking can be self-care if we relax while we do it, and then don’t over-indulge in our creations.

Almost anything that we do with the intent of rest and/or renewal can be self-care. Where most of us faulter is indulging in something less than healthy because it feels good in the moment. We can excuse these moments of indulgence as self-care, though we are likely deceiving ourselves.

Engaging in community can be excellent self-care. We can connect with others, remind ourselves we are not alone, and know that we belong. Of course, being over-committed negates the benefits of being in community. Balance is one of the keys to healthy, honest self-care.

What are you doing for yourself this week? Will you make time for your favorite hobby or activity? Will you join in a communal activity or two? Will you take a nap? Will you take some time to be still and take in the beauty of Creation? What nurtures you, restores you, or gives you rest?

Whatever it is for you, take some time and do it. You deserve honest and true self-care today and everyday.

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and mental health ministry. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others.

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