One of my favorite things is being asked to serve on ordination committees. My go-to question for candidates seeking ordination is about self-care. I want to know that someone who wants to be of service to others has the tools they need to do that well, including caring for themselves.
My self-care has evolved from reactive to preventive. What I mean by that is, I used to take time off when I felt like I had used my last reserves and needed some refreshing. By the time I got to my rest time, I had been so on the go that it was hard for me to disconnect from doing and focus on being. I struggled to be at rest on a large scale (vacation or a long weekend) because I hadn’t modeled that for my mind/body, on a small scale (daily self-care and Sabbath keeping).
In an effort to be proactive about rest and rejuvenation, so that my down time can be effective in energizing me for the week ahead, I have a self- care planner for 2021. It was a suggestion from a colleague after the New Year’s chapel service in which she gifted each of us with a pocket planner, and suggestions for its use. I thought self-care planner was a great idea.
So, I use it only to jot down what I will do for myself each day. My dailies are: yoga, water, morning pages (15 minutes of free journaling, no editing or stopping, to get my day started and remember important tasks, or just unload my mind), and stairs.
I do a yoga video every day with Andrew, while Reesee the cat sits in judgment, glaring at us. I opt to take the stairs at work as much as I can, and I aim for 3 fill ups of my 25 oz water bottle. Then, I add one thing each day to be my self-care practice for the day. Here’s what next week looks like:
Monday: A puzzle
Tuesday: 5 things I love about myself (in my journal)
Wednesday: buy flowers
Thursday: 10 minutes of gratitude (in my journal, I will list things I’m grateful for until the timer goes off)
Friday: art project
Sunday: plan vacation. I’ve been trying to reserve most of my vacation days, with a few mental health days here and there: one block of days for a trip to see my family, and one block of days for an anniversary beach trip in August. It’ll be fun to look forward to some time away, and some beach reads!
That’s how I’m coping with the pandemic, loss, other people’s loss, etc. What’s in your self-care toolbox?
I realized last year that I needed to resume regular walking, running, and/or bicycling for my physical and mental health. I’ve built up now to running 15-25 miles a week and riding my bicycle once a week. Reading is another important part of my self-care plan – reading through the Bible again and reading 65 other books are my reading goals. I also try new cooking recipes.