Jenna Petersen, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor
March 25, 2021
I am excited to talk about why eating for self care in stressful times is super important, as well as HOW you can best take care of yourself by eating for self care.
But first, let’s talk about self care.
What is self care, anyways? I actually don’t really like the term “self care”. It seems selfish. Often, Christians have a negative view of “self care”, so I do not often use that term when I talk about holistic wellness practices that help us relax, recharge, and reenergize.
I had one sweet college friend challenge me by asking, “Is self care supported by the Bible?”
She was full of lots of good questions, but clearly this was the most memorable one to me.
On the fly, my response went something like this: “Well, we’re reading through the Gospel of Mark right now. I think Mark chapter 1 points to Jesus practicing spiritual self care when it says he goes up on the mountain to pray and spend time with God (see verse 35 of the quote below). If Jesus practiced self care in order to receive refreshment and direction from the Father, then we can too, right?” She accepted my answer; however, I definitely wanted to dive into the topic more when I had the time.
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.Mark 1:35-39 (English Standard Version)
Here’s what I learned: the Bible talks about a few areas of self care, but not all areas of self care that you might think of when you hear those words.
You might think of bubble baths, candles, getting a mani/pedi, or the phrase “treat yo’ self”. This is a very limited definition of self care, in my opinion. None of those actions are bad, and they can be very important for Christians in practicing self care in this busy, fast-paced world, but they are not the main thrust of what the Bible supports.
Here are a few activities that we could call “self care”, supported by Scripture:
- Spending time with likeminded friends. The Bible tells to “not give up the habit of meeting together” in Hebrews 10:24-25. We need one another. We need to encourage each other in order to strengthen our joy in Christ. We gain insight, wisdom, perspective, truth, and growth from having friends who love us well. Be that friend. Seek that friend. Be known by other believers. If you have yet to put your faith in Jesus Christ, today can be the day!
- Prayer. We are called to pray. We pray in order to praise God for all that He is and all He has done. We pray for our own well-being. We pray for others. We pray, not worry. We pray, instead of gossiping or judging. We pray because we cannot fix life’s problems. We lean into the One who loves us more than we could ever know, like Jesus did in Mark 1. Just as Jesus called on God for direction, we let God lead us. He then obeyed by moving on to the next towns to preach and work miracles. How is God asking you to obey Him? Start finding out by asking Him in prayer what to do next. Additionally, we are to talk to all three Persons of the Trinity in prayer. In the book of Acts, the apostles prayed to the Holy Spirit, who is always with us. Spending time with the Triune God in prayer can benefit your wellness in ways that I can’t put into words. I definitely consider prayer a form of self care for my daily rhythms.
- Spending time in the Word. Meditating on what God says has so many benefits. The Bible specifically says in Proverbs 7:2-4: “2 keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; 3 bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend.” God says that if we keep His commandments, we will live! We will have life to the fullest. Do you want the best life possible? Doesn’t that sound rich and beautiful and wonderful and satisfying? Read your Bible and thrive out of the overflowing joy of knowing God above any other good in this world.
- Physically resting. Sleep is important for overall functioning. If you drive a car or truck with little sleep, it’s equivalent to driving drunk. By sleeping, you are trusting God to take care of the world he made. He doesn’t need you and only you to do his good work. You can rest and entrust it to him.
- Physically moving. We’re not called to be lazy, but to use the strength of our bodies for the good of others. How are you building up the people around you? We are called to serve others tangibly. Find a friend and serve your church, town, city, or neighborhood!
- Emotional wellness activities. Check your emotions. Take time to weep, cry, rejoice, and hope. Pray that God would align your emotions with His. Ask him to change your heart from stone to flesh if you notice you react harshly to the people around you. What else do you think fits here? There are lots of options! One might be seeking professional counseling and medication to gain stability for clinically diagnosable, biologically-driven mental health conditions.
- Worshipping. All of life is worship. But what is worship? It is declaring God the most worthy, most powerful, most awesome King that he is! Do you want to worship like Paul did, all through the night in prison? Do you want to worship like the psalmist, who sang about the hills, sheep, and people God made? Do you see your conversations with co-workers as worship? Believe and implement verses 15 through 21 of Ephesians 5: “15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” If all of life is worship for the believer in Jesus Christ, EATING is a form of WORSHIP unto the Lord. Do you thank God for the miracle of the food before you every day? It is truly amazing that each one of us doesn’t have to be a farmer. Someone else is working the ground to provide for your food. Farming is some of the hardest work in the world. Do you appreciate all of the technology, infrastructure, energy, and water that went into your meal? It’s insane to think about every person who played a role in your meal tasting and looking amazing. Thank God for these wonderful blessings as you begin, enjoy, and finish your meals.
So then, as an expansion of what I wrote above, here are my tips for eating for self care:
- Give yourself time to eat. Don’t eat while standing or walking if you can take the time to sit down and eat. Give yourself adequate time to focus on food and food only. It’s does not actually take that long to eat, and that time is not wasted.
- Eat with other people. Eat with others who you can encourage by taking the time to spend with them. Have someone over and bless them by sharing your food.
- Pray before, during, or after you eat. See Point 7 above… Eating can be worship! Cooking can be worship, too, even when the bread gets burned.
- Eat in a setting that is pleasing. Use plates, cups, napkins, silverware, or candles. Get creative!
- Make sure to pack enough food for your heavily scheduled days. Going hungry doesn’t do a service to you or the people around you. Be well-nourished because taking care of yourself shows you honor the boundaries of how God made your body to biologically function. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. Sounds simple, but it’s not.
- Don’t be afraid to spend money on food. Honestly, some foods are pricy these days, but food is a necessity. Even nice food is good to splurge on every once in a while. Eat out when you can, and put that into your budget. God gave you the biological need for food, so make sure that you have enough of it at home to meet that need.
- Choose foods that are easy on your gastrointestinal system on stressful days. You don’t need an upset stomach on top of jitters for important exams, presentations, or interviews. Plan some smaller, lighter meals that you can eat whenever the hunger strikes. Your body will thank you, especially on stressful days with commitments like these.
- Eat without electronics. They are a major distraction and don’t help you focus on the food, how your body feels, etc.
- Show gratitude before you eat. Again, this is redundant, but it is important to say a quick prayer of thanks before diving into your meal, no matter how crazy your day is. We should be happy to take every opportunity to talk to God that we get. Prayer is as equally important for spiritual self care as eating is for physical self care!
What are you waiting for? Eating for self care just got a lot more practical with those tips above. Choose one that you think it most important to incorporate into your routine this next week.
As always, if you find yourself stuck in your Intuitive Eating journey, contact me to learn more about what individualized care might look like for you.
May God bless you and your community with abundant happiness,
#SelfCare #HolisticWellness #InutitiveEating #WomenEatWell #Blog
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