Take care of yourself.
This was a topic that’s been on my mind for some time to write about. Also, these days it is a commonly heard phrase. Here in this article, you will find eight ways to take of yourself. Even better – all of it is extracted from the life of Jesus Christ.
Taking care of yourself is important for your health and also for accomplishing your missions in life. Before we begin, let me make it clear that it is not selfish to take care of yourself. When you work well you deserve to attend well to your needs. Particularly many of those who work in service sector areas like medical, church, schools, or non-profits are overburdened and exhausted in their work. Unless conscious efforts are made for self-care, the resulting exhaustion affects your work and decisions badly. On the other hand, well-chosen self-care steps will help you to appropriately serve those who depend on you whether at home or work.
Some people who have a deep heart to serve find it hard or even think it a sin to take a break from serving. I have seen many in pastoral settings overburdened in their vocation but still not taking time to refresh themselves. Jesus, who was the epitome of service, showed through His life that caring for oneself is vital for many purposes which we are about to see. Let’s begin.
- Time to rest
Once, word reached Jesus that John the Baptist was beheaded. This was horrible and overwhelming news to the Lord and the disciples. His words at that time were “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31) Though it is very important to rest regularly, life presents us with moments where we might need extended rest or isolation from others. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed to get more time to rest. Because even during those times there might be someone who depends on you for their care. The point our Lord brings out is not to be missed. Certain life situations validate extra measures of taking care. It might be the death of a family member, or a worrisome disease. Find a way and place to get some rest.
2. Sleep during the storm.
Jesus and His disciples got into a storm once while sailing on a boat. While the disciples were afraid and screamed, Jesus is seen sleeping calmly on the boat. Certainly, through the story, we are to know the power God has over the wind and sea. But it also conveys that everyone will face struggles in life even when Jesus is in your boat.
Giving yourself a good night’s sleep is an essential way to take care of your health. Sleep enough and for a time which helps your body to get good rest. I hate to say the following to the adults who are reading this. Prepare your mind and body to have a consistent sleep routine. A sixty-year-old individual would have slept at least 20 years of his precious life in sleep. That’s a staggering proportion. But you need that to function well. Fear and worry can mess with sleep. Knowing that God is with you at all times is a soothing thought to put the worries at bay.
3. Allow others to serve you
Most people who I know to have a serving mind are rarely seen being served by others. In every church, family or workplace there may be two or three people who are always available to meet the needs of others around them. People around them also expect them to always serve. But if you are one of them you should know that there are times to let others serve you.
In Luke’s gospel, there is an interesting verse that deserves attention. It says these women were helping to support them out of their own means. (Luke 8:3, NIV) Even during the peak of a serving ministry, the Lord permitted a group of women to support his ministry.
You may be the most gifted person to serve in your community. But even you should occasionally let others serve you. By doing that you are also opening up a way for others to be blessed.
Sadly, when preoccupied with a lot of commitments and tasks prayer may take the back seat in life. It is quite likely that most of our prayers become casual and less intense. Prayer is the most effective self-care tool available for everyone’s disposal all the time. Use it without hesitation. There come times when we need an intense or extended time of prayer. Whether it is temptations, sickness, worry, or preparing for a crisis, prayer is the appropriate and greatest way to take care of yourself.
Jesus, through His life, showed us how important it is to pray. Despite His supreme power and knowledge, He continuously demonstrated to us the importance of prayer. We find Him praying intensely and for a prolonged time during His temptations, before choosing his disciples, and at the Garden of Gethsemane. In two of those occasions, the Gospel states that Jesus was strengthened at those times by the heavenly angels. Yes, prayer is a miraculous and powerful way to take care of and strengthen yourself.
5. Choose to be with the right people
Jesus was seen engaged in an intense time of prayer the whole night before choosing His disciples. A significant part of his public life and continuity of the spread of the gospel was envisioned through this intimate group of disciples. It was important for Him to do it right. So, we see Jesus seeking the Father’s will through prayer. Consequentially, Jesus was showing us also how important it is to rightly choose whom we are going to surround ourselves with. Spend some time reflecting on who to spend your time with. If you spend time with the wrong crowd all the time, that is going to be a problem. Nevertheless, don’t get into the trap of associating only with people who make you happy or agree with all you do. That can destroy you completely. Instead, choose wisely who you want to associate with so that it will serve bigger purposes for you and them.
6. Come and eat breakfast
One of the last words of Jesus on earth was ‘come and eat breakfast’.
At that moment Jesus was serving the freshest catch of a grilled fish and bread to his dear disciples. There is every reason to believe Jesus ate right while on earth. It is not like he cared less about his health since he knew He was going to die soon or because he had the power within Him to heal Himself. How much more does He intend for us to eat right?
Incorporating healthy eating choices is an unavoidable way to take care of oneself. It doesn’t mean you punish yourself to eat something you don’t like all the time. There are plenty of ways one can plan dieting options which are enjoyable and healthy at the same time.
7. Ready to say no
Saying “no” is hard for certain people. But saying no when needed is vital to taking care of one’s self. Accept the fact that you can’t be everywhere and you can’t step into all needed opportunities. Most people with a heart to serve are over-utilized and exhausted. In every church or institution, we see a handful of people who are ready to serve for any need. You should learn to say no when necessary.
Jesus was once approached by a Caananite woman who asked Him to heal her daughter. Though initially He told her no, Jesus went on to heal her daughter. If you read the conversation between them, Jesus is making it clear that it was not His purpose at that time to heal every sickness around the world. In Jesus’ case, it was possible to intervene in every opportunity but still, He makes it clear that it is not the way He operates.
Saying no can be hard. But to many people just doing that itself is going to be a great way to take care of themselves. You don’t need to be worried about taking care of everyone.
8. Serve others
Maybe you are a person who is not interested in serving but preferred to be served. If you are one of them, it might be time to step up to an opportunity to serve others. In fact, serving is a great way for everyone to self-care. Find a way to show a random act of kindness. Or find a way to do some community volunteering work.
Jesus demonstrates a fascinating example of serving by washing the feet of His disciples. This happened some hours before he was going to be arrested and killed. Even at a time like that and though He is the master of them, Jesus, by doing so, set a benchmark of service to anyone. His words at the end of that moment were you will be blessed if you serve. Serving is a blessed way of taking care of oneself and others.
We began with the necessity of taking care of one’s self by stating it is not selfish to do so. Eight different ways are shown to help you to take care of yourself. All of them are extracted from the life of Jesus. Hope you find this non-exhaustive list useful. It is important to know that God Himself who came in the form of a human demonstrated how vital it is for one to take care of themself well.
How much more does He intend for us to do so?