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Is Self-Care Selfish?

Self | Attie Murphy | 6 mins

"Self-care" has been a buzzword in recent years, and it carries a lot of different connotations for such a simple phrase. It can mean anything from getting 8 hours of sleep to spending your savings on iced lattes. With the trendiness of self-care comes the idea that it's an indulgent practice. However, authentic self-care is about caring for ourselves in transformative and rejuvenating ways. That type of care is not only vital but is also for the good of those around us. God tells us to act selflessly, and He makes clear the importance of self-care. The Bible says to "love your neighbor as yourself," not "love your neighbor, not yourself." Still, self-care can become an obsession that keeps us from taking meaningful action. Let's look at what self-care means in the context of following Jesus. 

Love without idolizing 

God made us wonderful humans in His image. We should cherish His design by loving ourselves. We can mistake that for narcissism, but there is a big difference between appreciation and worship. We should appreciate our value while worshiping our Creator. God wants us to enjoy knowing ourselves because that brings us closer to Him. It is perfectly okay to like our own personalities. God reflects His creativity through us! 

It's inward care, not outward

The problem with modern self-care care trends is that they focus on outward image rather than inner rest. There's nothing wrong with sharing inspiration, and many healthy forms of self-care work outwardly, but it's counterproductive when the approval of others is the goal of our routines. If you spend 15 minutes trying to get the perfect picture of your "serene morning coffee," is that actually relaxing? Care is about putting real attention on our well-being, especially in the mundane and unseen moments. 

How to choose your habits

Effective self-care varies because we each have unique wiring, struggles, and emotions. However, there are foundational habits that ground every person. You can look at this list and identify the areas that need more of your focus.

Peace for your soul: No type of self-care will provide genuine contentment without spiritual rest. If you face stress, burnout, or confusion, start by prioritizing Jesus. Set time with Him every day, away from distractions. It's so easy to think you can talk to God any time, but you'll see the difference when you bring His input into everything you do. When you invite God to the center of all your issues, or even when you don't want to think at all, you open yourself to care that you can't give yourself. Along with that, you’ll have more security and wisdom when you spend quality time with other followers of Jesus. Make a point of setting time with people just for heart to heart talk, without any other agendas.

Your body is your temple: Maybe you've ignored your Grandma saying those words when you didn't want to eat your vegetables, but it is a profound truth. While on this Earth, your physical health affects what you do and how you feel. Caring for your body is more than going to the doctor when you're sick; it's a proactive relationship. Eating the right nutrients, getting sunshine and exercise, and tuning into your health are essential forms of self-care. It's often not exciting, but it will transform your energy to embrace life and help others.

Your mind matters: Mental health is a complex issue impacted by our spiritual, physical, and emotional self-care. Identifying and addressing the state of your mind requires grit and trust. Why? Because you'll thrive when you look your struggles in the eye and accept support to lift your weight as you step forward. Whether you have clinical mental health concerns or circumstantial unhealthy patterns, you aren't stuck. Positive change will come through consistency and will have ups and downs. The key is to pick your helpful habits back up after you fail. Make the little things essential. That could mean checking in with a mentor or therapist, attending Celebrate Recovery, reading verses and books that retrain your brain, making new friends, or giving up a "harmless" habit that's hurting you. Sometimes, it might mean treating yourself to that fancy coffee shop when your confidence is down.

At the end of the day, our relationship with Jesus will point to how we care for ourselves. With faith in our worth through His purpose, we see our calling to intentionality. God leads us to love Him and love people, and with that comes a path for self-care without self-centeredness. When we follow that path, our trials won't instantly dissolve, but we will start to feel better, do better, and understand the value of who we are. 

Written By

Attie Murphy

An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.

Published on May 22, 2023