Picture this: It’s Friday night. After a long week of work, responsibilities, and commitments, it’s time for some self-care. You can’t wait to relax and do nothing all weekend. After two days of watching TV, ordering food in, and scrolling through TikTok, you feel completely rested by Monday morning, ready to take on a new week.
Except you don’t. Even though you dedicated your entire weekend to rest and relaxation, you still feel exhausted. You still feel on edge about something you can’t quite place. You don’t feel refreshed; you feel burnt out, and all you can do is just wait for the next time you get a break.
Something’s missing in your self-care practice. But don’t worry—the answer is within reach. This blog post will reveal how you can make the most of your self-care practice.
Self-Care: the Basics
The meaning of self-care is pretty intuitive: in short, it’s what you deliberately do to take care of yourself. In our fast-paced world, it’s essential to take time out for self-care. We talk a lot about “self-care practices” because we all desperately need them!
Self-care is a buzzword that conjures up images catered to incite relaxation: a sunhat and a book laid out carefully on a beach towel, or a cozy robe and face mask at a fancy spa. We tend to perfectionize what self-care should look like, thanks to social media and never-ending advertisements. We tend to believe that a certain time (like after work) or place (like your spring break cruise destination) is the only environment where we can successfully slow down and practice self-care. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can practice self-care anywhere, and it doesn’t have to cost anything. As for what qualifies as self-care, the answer is this: whatever makes you feel happy and connected to your true self. What things truly fill you up? What activities leave you feeling renewed and content? Self-care looks different for everyone—yoga classes, going for a walk, brewing a cup of coffee, visiting an art gallery, or listening to music are some examples.
Self-care has been shown to have many benefits. Taking time for self-care regularly can improve your mood (in the moment and overall), decrease stress, and increase productivity. You’re more likely to live life in alignment with your true self because you’re connected to your mind, body, and spirit.
Why is Self-Care So Hard?
Most of us at this point know that self-care is good for us. Why, then, do we all still struggle to just do it? Why is it so hard to pause and take time for ourselves? We live in a world that values maximum productivity, so it’s tough to slow down. We also have constant interruptions. Whether it’s a notification in the middle of your power nap or some spiraling thoughts about your growing to-do list, stepping back and focusing on your wellbeing doesn’t always feel like a priority.
Self-care time is sacred time. You have to be very intentional about it, because there is always something else competing for your time and attention. Reply to one more email. Check Instagram one more time. Watch one more recommended Youtube video. And it goes on and on and on. You have to decide that self-care is worth it for you, and keep yourself accountable.
When you’re finding the self-care practice that works for you, don’t think too much about what it “should” look like. If meditation isn’t your thing, do something else to wind down and calm your mind. Just ask yourself, “What would help me feel like myself right now?” It might change from day to day. Listen to your intuition.
In order to make the most of your self-care practice, you need to set boundaries with yourself and others. It’s inevitable that life will infringe on your self-care sometimes, but you can do the best you can to establish positive boundaries that give you time and space for self-care. This might mean picking a “self-care hour” once a week that you block out in your calendar. Maybe it means updating settings on your phone to turn certain apps off after 9 P.M. Whatever it is, create a boundary that will protect and prioritize your wellness.
Distraction is Not Self-Care
Some activities disguise themselves as self-care but they actually don’t do anything useful for your wellbeing. You know what these are. They’re usually reactive to your circumstances, and they tend to numb you rather than rejuvenate you. They may feel good in the moment, but you don’t feel any better afterward.
This is why you might feel exhausted even from sitting on the couch doing “nothing”. Your mind needs a break, too. If you’re constantly taking in new information with different distractions, there’s never any space for your thoughts to play themselves out. Real self-care is a way to let your mind expand and heal itself.
For example, if you’re scrolling through your phone during your entire lunch break, you probably won’t feel refreshed when you go back to work. You didn’t take a real break by engaging in a kind of true self-care. Instead, you practiced distraction, or, as we like to call it, idle self-care.
Idle self-care is about immediate gratification—a quick fix, a mood-booster. It isn’t necessarily bad for you, but it isn’t actively good for you, either. What are some of your idle self-care tendencies? Do you find yourself drawn to your phone, or drinking, or TV, when some uncomfortable or painful emotions arise? Instead of going straight to these forms of idle self-care, take a deep breath and think about what would be true self-care for you in that moment.
True self-care is about doing things that will nourish your soul. Here at Skylight, we think that true self-care is spiritual self-care.
Incorporating spirituality into your self-care practice will underscore the good that’s already happening in your life. God wants to help you appreciate life, and spiritual self-care can help you do that. Spiritual self-care isn’t about where you are—it’s about what you’re doing. It’s about you. So you can do it anywhere.
A spiritual self-care practice is anything that connects you to your spiritual core—the real you. A good indicator that an activity is spiritual in nature is if it helps you think about something bigger than yourself, explore your personal values, and become more self-aware. These activities qualify as self-care because they encourage introspection in a productive way. They also provide clarity and quiet your mind so you can focus on what truly matters to you. Spirituality helps you have a better sense of who you are and your place in the world. And when you know these things, you will want to take care of yourself.
Making your self-care spiritual can help you take away the stuff of self-care and instead focus on what matters: actually caring for yourself. You don’t need a fancy face roller or a massage chair; instead, you can take five minutes to pause, grounding your mind and spirit, with spirituality.
Spiritual Self-Care Series on the Skylight App
Need help getting started with spiritual self-care? Skylight contributor Sade Jones is here for you. She has a Spiritual Self-Care series designed to teach you everything you need to know about spiritual self-care. In her introduction video (1 min), she says:
“Most of us acknowledge the importance of taking care of our physical health and our mental health. I feel like sometimes our spiritual health can be easily overlooked. Physical health is taking care of our bodies and mental health is taking care of our minds. But what about our souls? That's where spiritual self-care comes in.
“So, how does one take care of their soul? I believe it starts with a connection to yourself, tuning into your higher self, and taking the time to understand what your soul is truly craving. Once you start to develop an understanding of what your soul needs, spiritual self-care becomes about honoring that.”
If you’re not sure how to know what your soul truly wants, check out this article about connecting to your spiritual core. You’ll find some ideas there about getting to know your true self. This is essential in a spiritual self-care practice. When you know what your soul craves, your self-care activities become restorative instead of just fun.
The series also outlines four steps for a fulfilling spiritual self-care practice:
Sade will walk you through getting started with these practices. In addition to this self-care series, you can access a free spiritual self-care yoga flow (13 min) with Rehl Clarke.
It’s time to make the most of your self-care practice with spiritual self-care. Lose the distractions. Take a deep breath. And let spiritual self-care renew your mind, body, and spirit.
Skylight is here to offer accessible, meaningful help with spiritual wellness. We believe that everyone can benefit from a personal connection with divinity. Our blog covers topics from faith crises to contemplative prayer. On the app, you’ll find hundreds of spiritual exercises—yoga, meditations, affirmations, Q&A’s, podcasts, and more. And all of it is free for you to enjoy. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to make the most of your self-care practice with spirituality.
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