When you hear the words self-care what comes to mind?
Perhaps you envision an aromatherapy candle burning, soft music, and a massage. Maybe you think of an early morning run, a quiet walk in the park, or a Saturday afternoon curled up with a good book.
Self-care is the idea of taking responsibility for your own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It is equally important for men and women, and it is vital for a healthy marriage.
That last phrase may seem counter intuitive. Because marriage is a relationship in which husband and wife are supposed to take care of each other. Right?
But when husband and wife are always physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from work, family, church, and other commitments, they may struggle to find energy for their marriage. And if that pattern persists, the relationship will inevitably suffer.
Husbands and wives who take time to care for themselves find they have more to contribute to growing and sustaining a healthy marriage.
Good self-care habits differ somewhat for everyone. But here are some areas to consider.
Quick inventory. Are you getting enough sleep? Choosing food that supports good health? How about regular exercise? Is there some nagging issue that you just haven’t found time to discuss with your doctor?
Sure, it sounds basic. But physical health can positively—or negatively—impact all areas of life and relationships. So whether you need to break a bad habit or start a new routine, taking care of your body is one way to nourish your marriage.
What was the last book you read? Do you have a hobby?
Part of self-care is taking care of our minds. Because life can be stressful.
For some people, listening to favorite music while driving to work provides the mental break they need each day. For others, regular hiking in the great outdoors helps them hit the reset button mentally.
We all need healthy ways to unwind, take a break from routine and rest our brains a bit.
When we are mentally refreshed, we can be more present and available in our relationships. And that’s important for a healthy marriage.
Some proponents of self-care describe emotional health as doing things that make you happy. Like spending time in your “happy place”—wherever that may be.
But happiness can be a very temporary feeling. So a better question to ask might be, “Where am I experiencing joy right now?”
Joy is a much deeper sense of well-being. Cultivating joy may be a process that requires time and thought. Some people find great joy in creating things. Others experience joy in service of some kind. And many find nature a source of tremendous joy, so time spent outdoors leaves them feeling peaceful and content.
Cultivating joy builds inner strength and resilience that benefits both you and your spouse, and may be a source of inspiration for others as well.
Taking care of spiritual health is foundational to everything else. Because we are spiritual beings, created by God, staying connected to the Source of life is essential self-care.
A daily routine of some time spent in quiet, meditating on scripture, talking and listening to God is one way to stay connected to Him. Making time in our lives for worship is another. But the possibilities are endless.
Finally, self-care sometimes gets a bad rap for being selfish. And like everything in life, balance is important.
Self-care may mean spending time alone but is certainly not limited to things you do all by yourself.
Often, taking care of yourself means making time for others. Spiritual health, for example, may be enhanced by a group Bible study.
You might cultivate joy and improve your emotional health by working with others to serve a community impacted by fire or flooding.
Your mind might be refreshed and stretched by participating in a book club or taking an art class.
And you can take care of your body by walking daily with a friend, or maybe your spouse.
The bottom line is this: Self-care is taking responsibility for your own health. And in marriage, good self-care habits enhance your ability to take care of each other and enjoy life together.
Sometimes no amount of self-care can make a dent in feelings of deep and overwhelming sadness. If such feelings persist, you may want to seek help from mental health professionals.