Does self-care sound like a wonderful, lofty dream that’s too good to be true for your life and schedule? Only because you’re overthinking it! Rebecca Hawkins, a Senior Business Process Consultant and certified yoga instructor, returns to the blog to discuss self-care and shares a simple trick we can all incorporate into our day to get our mind and bodies calmed.
Why do you think self-care is something we still struggle to integrate into our lives?
I’m going to start right out of the gate displaying my Brene Brown fan girl-crush, again, because I think she said it so well in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: “We must work to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.” We struggle with self-care because we’ve been so deeply conditioned by society to equate our value with what we accomplish each day. Rest feels like wasted time, when in reality, it is probably the most important thing we do every day.
In her book, Brene goes on to quote Dr. Stuart Brown, who says, “The opposite of play is not work—the opposite of play is depression.” That quote stopped me in my tracks when I first read it. We’ve been sold such a bill of goods by the world that measures our importance and worth and value by what we produce, what we do for work, what we earn, etc. And living that way is driving us all to the brink of depression, because we biologically NEED rest and play in our lives!
What does the Bible say about self-care?
This idea of self-care isn’t just biology or psychology. It’s Biblical. God ordained self-care at creation when He set aside the seventh day to rest from HIS work. Stop and think about that for a second…even GOD rested and He COMMANDED us to do the same! Jesus recognized when He was tired and overwhelmed and went off by Himself to rest and pray many times.
And yet, Christians are often worse than the rest of the world when it comes to measuring our value by our good works. But it makes me smile that Jesus knew we would struggle with this, so He gave us these words: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest….” (Matt 11:28, MSG). It doesn’t get any better or more clear than that!
In your own life, what does self-care look like?
I wish I could say I was the poster child for self-care, but I’m learning how to lean into this just like the rest of us. This whole global pandemic has somehow made it even harder, because so much of what brings me self-care is connection with my girlfriends or going out for a pedicure or a massage. So I practice yoga at home. I give myself permission to unplug with a book or a TV show or a movie. I go for walks or putter in my yard, which is one of my happy places.
But there’s no right or wrong way to practice self-care. It really starts with permission. I find women—even more so Christian women—struggle to give themselves permission to let things go, to have a messy house or kids who didn’t finish their homework, or make dinner from a box or a can or a drive-thru instead of from scratch. We are compelled to do it all and do it all perfectly and to shame ourselves if we’re just too tired. That has to stop.
That pesky old analogy about putting your own oxygen mask on first is TRUTH. I started my yoga ministry, Unforced Rhythms, because I feel called to create sacred space for women to embrace their stories and find rest. We need it so desperately. Self-care in my life starts with self-talk, with telling myself a different story and giving myself permission to let stuff go.
What do you think is the easiest self-care practice to start?
Besides starting with your self-talk, I’d say start with deep breathing. That’s a practice you can do any time, anywhere. It takes just a few minutes, but it actually rewires your nervous system and has tremendous health benefits. Take five very deep, very slow inhales and exhales. If you can, take ten! When you breath deeply and slowly, you stimulate the Vagas nerve, which activates our autonomic (or para- sympathetic) nervous system – slowing our heart rate, lowering blood pressure, stimulating digestion. It can take us out of “flight or fight” stress mode and into recovery and calm. It’s grounding and can bring us into the present moment—letting go of the past (the home of regret) and the future (the birthplace of anxiety) and recognizing that this moment is all that matters and is all we have. The Bible is full of references to the power of breath (Gen 2:7; John 20:22; Job 32:8). Breath represents life and connection to God. It’s my favorite part of teaching yoga: to help women learn to connect to their breath.
What tips do you have for making self-care a habit that sticks?
Schedule it into your day. I’m working right now with a talented artist and small business owner who is a member of our local 4word chapter who creates custom planners. Sometimes it helps to write things down, and I’ve asked her to create a wellness planner for me that includes a section every day for me to plan or record the ways that I personally connect to self-care: my food choices, my movement choices, my time with God, my reading and connecting with friends. I love having a daily written reminder of those things that matter most to me. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll have to connect her back to 4word when she’s ready to go ‘public’ and start selling her planners!
I also love the Pause app by John Elderidge as a simple daily reminder to breathe and let go and connect to God. Whatever you do, be intentional. Put it on your calendar every day. Don’t over complicate. Find something simple that works and just start doing it! Tell yourself it matters, because YOU matter.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Just please know that you are worth it. You are beautiful and beloved and your story is perfect in God’s eyes. When you invest in yourself, everyone and everything around you will be better because of it. I highly recommend Terry Wardle’s book “Identity Matters.” It was life changing for me in understanding how God sees me and to help me give up “hustling” for my worth.
Rebecca Hawkins has lived in Colorado Springs for 11 years and is currently employed by USAA as a Senior Culture Enablement Consultant on the HR Organizational Health and Effectiveness team. She supports a “tone from the top” Executive Culture Training initiative designed to equip leaders to embrace key culture shifts like Progress over Perfection and embracing Healthy Challenge. She is a Certified Project Manager (CPM), a certified SAFe Agilist, Toastmasters Competent Communicator and Competent Leader, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Massachusetts with a major in English and a minor in French and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Colorado Christian University. Rebecca has served on several non-profit boards and is currently the President of the Pikes Peak Association for Talent Development.
Her vocational passions are leadership development and creating psychological safety in organizations. She is a HYI-200 hr certified Holy Yoga instructor and founder of Unforced Rhythms, LLC, a restorative yoga business whose mission is “To create sacred space for women to embrace their stories and enter into rest,” and is currently working on her Trauma Sensitive Yoga Certification.
She has been married to her third husband for nine years and is the imperfect mom of two grown children.