Self-care - is it biblical?

Is Self-Care Christian?

5 min read

Welcome to day 2 of the 2020 Love Blog Challenge! Today’s prompt is self-care. You can check out more information about the blog challenge over at Belle Brita’s blog.

So, self-care. If you spend any time at all in the lifestyle section of the internet you are very likely to have come across a plethora of articles telling you why is important to practice “self-care”. You might also have watched youtubers showing their weekly routines of putting on face-masks, painting their nails and journaling.

I am a big fan of all of these things. Throw in some wine and chocolate and I think you just created the perfect night in. However, I have struggled a bit with the whole idea of self-care.

Why I struggle with the concept of self-care

It’s not that I think that it is selfish to take some time to rest and relax.

But I think the term self-care can be misleading. It does not only imply taking care of one self but also a level of self-sufficiency. That I can take care of myself. That I don’t need others.

As an introvert, and a ‘strong independent woman’ this idea seems quite attractive to me. If I just take a day every week where I cycle through some sort of routine, involving a mud bath, meal-prepping and meditation I can somehow make myself okay. That I can detox not only my physical but also my mental and spiritual self. All by myself.

But I can’t.

Self-sufficiency is an illusion

Self-sufficiency is a lie. I have not met one person in my life so far, who is completely self-sufficient. We all rely on other people to some extent. Even if we never talk to these people. Our whole economy is based on individuals working together. If for some reason I was suddenly all alone on earth, I would probably die from starvation fairly quickly (okay, maybe not that quickly) because even though I love the idea of it, so far growing my own vegetables has not been a very successful endeavour. I don’t even want to imagine how lost I would be if I had to mill corn. But I digress. My point is – we are not self-sufficient.

Sabbath vs. self-care

One of my goals for this year is to keep a Sabbath. My word for 2020 is rhythm, which was largely influenced by my desire to establish healthy routines and and rhythms into my life because I have tendencies (like most of us) to lose myself is a frenzy of productivity.

self-care for Christians - a definition of Sabbath

Sabbath is the word the Bible uses for ‘a day of complete rest’ (for example in Exodus 16:23). The Hebrew verb sabat means to stop or to cease.

Why should we have a Sabbath?

To remember the Sabbath day and “to keep it holy” is actually one of the 10 commandments. Taking a day of rest each week where we stop our work, our hustle and striving is therefore simple obedience to what God has commanded.

Resting for a day each week helps us to remember that the world does not fall apart when we stop. We don’t hold the universe together. Resting helps me to acknowledge that I need rest. As a human being I have finite amounts of energy, of ideas, of capacity. I might like to tell myself that I can do anything but the truth is that my body, soul and mind work so much better when I have regular times of resting and recharging.

What should this day look like?

The Bible does not expand a whole lot what ought to happen on this Sabbath-day. In the 10 commandments we are simply reminded to not do any work. In other passages of the Bible the Sabbath day may also include corporate worship (Ezekiel 46,3). Otherwise, it seems, what we do instead of work is pretty much up to us.

I think this is because ‘complete rest’ looks differently for different people.

You might replenish by lying on the sofa all day reading books or watching films. Or in contrast, you prefer to be in nature. Maybe you recharge best around people or maybe you want to be on your own. I think that is up to you.

If you are stuck for ideas maybe ask yourself what activities (or non-activities) help you to recharge physically, mentally and spiritually and then implement those.

What my Sabbath looks like

For me, I try to sleep in on my Sabbath. On a normal day, I usually get up pretty early (mainly because I have the constant drive to make the most of each day and not miss out on anything). So it is really good for me to learn that it is okay to rest, to sleep, to not put any pressure or expectation on myself what I need to accomplish.

Other than sleep, sabat-ing for me involves a longer time reading the Bible, worshipping and praying. I then often take myself to a café, buy myself a hot drink or a beer and read a book. In the evening I hang out with Edd, either we stay at home, go out or see some friends. Pretty chill. No to-do lists. If I feel like it, I might go for a run or work on a creative project, but if not, I don’t.

So what’s the difference between Sabbath and a self-care Day?

So you might think, well that Sabbath thing you’re doing sounds pretty similar to a ‘self-care day’. And yes, from the outside it might look the same. But the motivation behind it is not to demonstrate self-sufficiency and independence. The heart of sabat-ing is to denounce dominion over my own time and recognising God’s dominion over it and therefore over myself. By having a Sabbath I demonstrate my dependence on God and my need for him. I recognise that he is king and that he is sovereign. That he holds my world in his hand – not me.

This whole Sabbath thing is still a fairly new to me and I am very much in the learning process. But what I can say so far, is that it is both humbling and freeing. Realising that I don’t have to depend on myself but that I can rest in the knowledge that God is king, is more replenishing than any self-care routine I can think of.

Do you have a weekly self-care or Sabbath day? Why or why not? And what does it look like? I’d love to hear about it!

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14 Comments

  • Reply Carolynn Markey 5 February 2020 at 1:46 am

    I was thinking when reading all the self-care posts from belle brita that sometimes my husband does self care for me. it’s like his way of loving me when he sees I need it. I loved your post! I think what is important is to make self care not selfish. <3

    • Reply Britta 5 February 2020 at 8:14 am

      That’s beautiful! Sometimes it has a different quality when other people do something nice for us rather than us ourselves as well.

  • Reply Brita 5 February 2020 at 3:39 am

    I don’t see self-care as an act of self-sufficiency. I am quite content living in community with others, depending on my loved ones for emotional and physical support. I see self-care as *contributing* to my overall well-being instead of 100% relying on others to take care of me. Self-care is also necessary so that I can in turn help others. It’s the whole oxygen mask thing. Put on your own mask before assisting others. I need a certain base level of well-being before I can be a good wife, or daughter, or friend.

    • Reply Britta 5 February 2020 at 8:16 am

      You are so right! And I think if that’s the heart behind it, there is nothing ‘wrong with’ self-care at all.
      As mature adults we should know how to take care of ourselves. I just sometimes find the narrative in the media very individualistic, which is something I wanted to challenge.

  • Reply Lo Tanner | Laced With Purpose 5 February 2020 at 5:20 pm

    We too have begun the practoce pf keeping a Sabbath! We do all the heavy work (cleaning, cooking, any necessary chores) on Friday during the day and then 7pm we start Sabbath. We rest, we worship, we pursue Christ and spend time enjoying each other. I love it. Its been good for me personally but also for our family relationships and relationship with God.

    • Reply Britta 6 February 2020 at 11:53 am

      Yes! I love that. So great you do this with all your family!

  • Reply KathrynCLang 6 February 2020 at 12:49 am

    We are designed to be in relationships – so we need to be invested in relationships. We are also called to care for the Temple of God and we ARE the Temple of God. I view self-care as good stewardship 😀

    • Reply Britta 6 February 2020 at 11:54 am

      That’s a good way of looking at it!

  • Reply mamedogo 6 February 2020 at 6:39 am

    I love this, self-care or sabbath. I know it is important to take time out for ourselves; but I do so love the insights you privide on the sabbath. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Britta 6 February 2020 at 11:55 am

      Thanks for your encouraging words. I am glad you found it helpful! 🙂

  • Reply Pam Hodges 8 February 2020 at 3:33 pm

    This was such an interesting take on the prompt! I have to agree that the term self care can be a bit misleading at times.

    • Reply Britta 8 February 2020 at 7:31 pm

      Thank you Pam! 😊

  • Reply Laura Romberger 10 February 2020 at 8:22 pm

    This was an interesting view on self-care. I’ve never viewed self-care as an act of working towards self sufficiency but rather as a responsibility of oneself. I’ve always viewed practicing self-care as generous and responsible. When I’m practicing self-care, I’m a better partner, a better employee and co-worker, a better mother, a better friend, and so on…because I feel healthier and more capable which empowers me to give more. I do definitely agree that the term self-care can be misleading. Self-care has fallen into the trend phase also and a grand way to market such things as spa treatments and beauty products. However, self-care roots much, much deeper than that. I believe that self-care is caring for your spirit, your heart, and your overall health.

    • Reply Britta 10 February 2020 at 9:10 pm

      Yes, I think that is the heart of it, really. But I just know from myself, that I often twist good things so they become centred around myself rather than the good of others and the glory of God.

    I love hearing from you