Intentional Self Care

By Barb Green, Parish Nurse

Milton, WI

Self care is essential every day for everyone regardless of age or job situation. Neglecting it can exact a high cost in illness and fatigue. Self care carries major health benefits. Deuteronomy 5:12-14 reminds us, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord our God; you shall not do any work.“ Taking Sabbath is not merely a suggestion; it is a commandment.

Being intentional about self care means that we have a plan – a goal to aim for. Another definition of intentional is the healing process of a wound. What a great image – self care to heal our wounded bodies, minds and spirits. Self care can consist of a simple measure like a cleansing breath, a new route to a familiar destination, a vacation, or prayer and meditation. Carving out time to read a book, take a nap, talk with a friend, soak in a tub, or take up a new hobby are all forms of self care.

Another form includes saying “no.“ The world will keep on spinning when you decline an invitation. This is especially true for caregivers. Your ability to say no may serve as a role model to others or may inspire them to step up to the plate and help. None of us are called to serve at the cost of our own health and well-being.

Exposure to positive messages such as devotional materials or Scripture help you keep your mind dwelling on God and His daily blessings. Music can be wonderfully restorative. Hum! Sing! Dance! There is no real cost to self care: only value. Be intentional. Love yourself daily through small things that refresh and renew.

Another commandment says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.“ Can we really do that if we can’t love ourselves? If we are so plugged into our jobs and everyday responsibilities that we can’t take time to care for ourselves, it is hard to love others. One good reason for self care is so that we can care for others. Jesus, the ultimate model for self care, experienced the same human weariness and exhaustion that we do when He was on earth. He asked for help to accomplish His goals by gathering an inner circle of close friends that He trusted with His life and His mission. He prepared and empowered them to do good and important work. By eating simple foods and walking everywhere, Jesus integrated healthful self care into His daily life. Meals were shared with friends in a restful environment. We find examples in the Bible of Jesus taking time away from the crowds to rest and have a time of solitude with His heavenly Father. Spiritual self care should be our first priority. Quiet, reflective prayer time provides energy and direction that we need to align ourselves with God’s will. Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.“

This prayer for self care was written by Rev. Dr. Deborah Patterson:

“Lord, save me from myself, from the projects that I believe I could do. Let me experience my family, my friends and the wondrous world around me. There is much to be done, so little time and yet, what is important is now, only now.

Let us learn the peace of coexistence from what we see in nature — maple next to pine, moss next to water. Let us listen for your voice — the still, small, quiet voice of rest and calm.

Lord, save us from ourselves and help us follow in your paths. May this be a time of healing and wholeness. Be with us at all times, in all seasons, keeping us cool and calm; helping us reach out to others in healing love.

In your Blessed Name we pray. Amen.“

Adapted from a compilation of articles on Self Care from

Spring 2015 Perspectives, a newsletter for Parish Nurses.

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