Biblical Self-Care Tips
Are you struggling? Maybe you are a mom or dad that struggles with anxiety, depression, or feelings of self-worth. Check out these tips for living within God's design for your body to help improve your overall functioning.
God designed us with limitations and boundaries, and those are for our good.
Operating within God’s boundaries can help reduce some negative feelings. Therefore, it makes sense that when we operate outside of how we are designed, we are going to feel stress, or negative emotions. I have listed tasks that help us live within God’s design for our lives, and that are supported by research.
If you were to go to a counselor or psychologist, they may label the following suggestions as coping skills or behavioral activation techniques. More than anything, they are ways for us to live in God's design for our bodies. I hope they help!
Living Within God's Design
Life-enhancing tasks: God has given us a brain to acquire knowledge. Learning a new skill helps stockpile cognitive reserves. Improvement in cognitive functioning provides a greater ability to deal with stress. If you are already overwhelmed, you can try to eliminate a life-draining item first (i.e., social media), and replace it with a life-enhancing task (i.e., educational audiobook).
Physical activities: God created our bodies to depend upon certain physical activities. Those activities, as repeatedly shown in clinical research, also help reduce stress. Here are some of them:
Exercise: Our bodies were made for movement. Things like exercise lead to anti-inflammatory responses, better physical health, improved memory, increased attention, and overall better brain functioning.
Sleep: According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1 in 3 adults do not obtain the recommended amount of sleep, which is 7–9 hours. Sleep deprivation can contribute to weight gain, irritability, lack of concentration, fatigue, and health issues, all of which exacerbate stress. To get better sleep, try committing to an appropriate bedtime and nighttime routine, eliminating electronics an hour before bed, and consulting with your doctor if you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Healthy eating: Our bodies need certain nutrients to thrive and feel good. A poor diet can lead to vitamin deficiency, creating a whole host of negative physical and emotional side effects. Eating healthy can reduce health issues, which in turn, reduces stress.
Breathing: God designed us to breathe in a certain way. People during panic attacks often change their breathing. It becomes much more rapid and they don’t get enough oxygen. This can lead to muscle cramping and lightheadedness, which increases one’s anxiety. The best thing one can do is to practice diaphragmatic breathing or breathing retraining (use a second hand on a watch to inhale for 4-6 seconds, and then exhale 4-6 seconds).
Rest: Research suggests relaxation and meditation are two avenues to counteract stress. As Christians, we know God has called us to rest (Sabbath), pray, and meditate specifically on his Word. God even modeled the Sabbath for us when he created the world. It’s okay, even commanded, to rest. Take a Sabbath day each week. Occasionally, take longer breaks of rest, like vacation.
Responsibilities: God has called us to have dominion over the earth. For us specifically, over the territory (communities, homes, workplace) we live. When we don’t take dominion (or another way to say that is giving up responsibilities), we feel worse. Even if you have to start small and take breaks, you will feel better when you pursue taking dominion.
Community: In the creation account, there was only one thing that wasn’t initially good: When Adam didn’t have a suitable helper. God created us to be in relationship not only with Him, but with others. God said In Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Our brains are hardwired to need others. So if you have tried to do life on your own (and I don’t just mean physically, I mean emotionally as well), then you are missing out on goodness. Being in leadership can sometimes seem lonely. Part of God’s design for you is to be in community with others. If anyone could have done life alone, it would have been Jesus. Yet we find him surrounded by people and his disciples. Find other Christians to connect with so you can “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2 NIV).
Hobbies/Enjoyment: God wants us to enjoy good things. He made the sunset beautiful, food delicious, and friendship necessary — for his glory and our pleasure. Pleasurable activities like vacations, date nights, and coffee with friends are all good things and can help reduce stress. The caution lies in making good things into idols. Moderation and right perception about pleasurable activities are key.
Ask for help: Acknowledging that we do not encompass every spiritual gift or every skill frees us to ask others for help. Partnering with others reflects God’s beautiful design of diversity and gives others opportunities to utilize their God-given gifts. Trying to do everything independently creates stress, and can be a form of pride, so ask others for help.
Flexible Schedule: Chaos feels hectic and stressful. Why? We were created in God’s image, and he is not chaotic (1 Cor. 14:33 NIV). To help reduce chaos and stress, create a flexible schedule for you and your family.
Practice Gratitude: Repeatedly thank God for the provisions He has given us. You have a job? God gave you the head, hands, and opportunity for that job, so thank Him. It is our natural tendency in the flesh to grumble and forget. Israelites are a great example of this. Phil 2 tells us to do everything without grumbling or complaining. Be careful not to compare yourself (that will make you feel depressed or prideful), and actively thank God.
Finances: Failing to use our finances wisely is a major source of stress. God gives us principles in Scripture that help us steward what he’s given us for his glory. Obeying God’s Word and putting money in its proper place reduces stress. No doubt that Christians are not to be slaves to money.
If you feel overwhelmed by this list, don't! Start small. Implement one or two of the recommendations and build from there. Still overwhelmed? Break a category into goals. For example, with "Responsibilities," you may need to start by completing one errand or task (unload the dishes). Start small, build over time.
Yes, pursue God's design for your bodies. But don't do it on your own, ask God to help!
Check out https://www.christianmoneysolutions.com for practical advice on stewarding and financial health.