Our staff had the wonderful opportunity to gather for our second annual staff retreat a couple weekends ago. Twenty staff, interns and volunteers from all five of our sites set apart time to be refreshed by God, to be better prepared to serve others, and to be more connected to one another.
To create space to be refreshed by God, I wanted to set aside some time where we could all relax and prepare our hearts to hear from God. I know personally when I am moving too fast, not caring for myself well, and trying to do too much out of my own power, I feel run down, empty, and disconnected from God.
When I was blocking out this time on the agenda, originally it was time for a “self-care activity.” But I quickly began thinking about how “self-care” can often be thrown around so much in popular culture that our perspective on what “self-care” is becomes shallow: bubble baths and chocolate. Neither of which are bad; I am personally a very big fan of both bubble baths and chocolate! But the danger is that it turns into a worldly “if it feels good do it” perspective. I think self-care should be so much more that “if it feels good do it.”
A way I like to think about self-care is to think about how a child can be lovingly cared for by a nurturing parent. This love includes fun things like hugs, kisses, snuggles, games, songs, laughter, gifts, and praise, but it also includes helping the child get plenty of sleep, having a clean and safe home to live in, being fueled by nutritious food, and having enough exercise to help regulate their moods and build a strong and healthy body.
If we look at self-care in the limited “bubble baths and chocolate” way, it’s more like when the cool aunt and uncle come to babysit for the weekend. You eat junk food, you stay up late, do whatever you want, and end up feeling sick for a few days. Instead, the way I encouraged our staff to look at self-care was more focused on not just what feels good in the moment but also what is really caring for yourself well in the long term.
That’s why I decided to call the session “soul care” rather than “self-care.” I wanted this time to be relaxing and centering, but I wanted to acknowledge that the source of that peace is God, not ourselves. My hope was that we could all turn towards God, open ourselves up honestly and ask, “Lord, show me where I need to stop fighting, stop striving, or stop ignoring, and allow YOU to CARE for my SOUL.”
Maybe you’re trying to make some changes in your own life to improve your “self-care.” I encourage you to ask whether you’re trying to make yourself feel better out of your own abilities and will or whether you are giving up control, giving in to God, and allowing Him to care for your soul.
Krista has been the Director of Counseling at Beacon since 2016. On top of leading our staff, she also counsels couples and those struggling with anxiety. In her free time, she enjoys spending weekends with her family in the pop up camper and hiking with her dog.