When Self-Care Guilt Strikes

Did you know that 54% of professionals in the United States do not use their vacation time? They’ve earned it! And yet, the majority of American workers are choosing to ignore the days of rest owed to them and choose instead to keep at the grind of their daily work. Why?

This lack of vacation time is a big flashing red light regarding how Americans view rest and taking care of yourself. When you value something, you give it attention. The less you value something, the more of a backseat it takes. So here comes the million dollar question: how much do you value self-care?

The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” (source) Thankfully, that definition is quite broad, which means that self-care has the flexibility to be as intense or casual as you would like.

Yet even with that flexibility, many of us do not prioritize any form of self-care. Self-care can fall into many categories, like fitness, relationships, and even your medical health. How many of you have skipped your yearly physical or missed out on the last two years of dental check-ups? That’s a lack of self-care.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

As Mary Harp points out in her article on Equipping Godly Women, God wants us to value ourselves as much as we value others. Guess what that means? Practicing self-care. Self-care is sometimes thought of as selfish and not Christlike, but this verse completely debunks that theory. God wants us to minister to those around us, but how can we do that if we are running on empty?

God took a day of Sabbath rest after creating the earth. He set the ultimate example of self-care for us! So why do we ignore His action and push ourselves? Maybe it has less to do with not having time or the means to “treat ourselves” and more to do with the fact that taking time for ourselves feels incredibly selfish and inevitably leads to us feeling guilty.

“Why should I take time for myself when I don’t get to see my kids as much as I would like?”

“I would love to get my nails done, but we really could use that money elsewhere.”

“A few minutes of quiet time in the morning would be the perfect start to my day, but I have to make sure breakfast is ready before everyone runs out the door.”

How many of you have had at least one of those thoughts cross your mind? Guilt is the biggest thief of true rest in many of our lives. And it’s time to put an end to those damaging thoughts. Join us this month as we learn how to put self-care higher up on our priorities list and find ways to give ourselves a break without causing more stress.