According to Google Trends, the number of searches for “self-care” has nearly quadrupled since 2018. It’s a huge buzzword. Everybody is talking about “living their best life”. It’s common to encourage people with the phrase “you do you”. People are constantly talking and posting about their self care. From the pancakes they made on their own and ate in bed, to the marathons they’re running, to the documentaries they’re watching while eating popcorn with family, much of what we do to unwind, cope, and deal with life can be traced back to self care.
So what should Christ followers do in response to the self care movement that we’re in? Should we embrace it fully? Should we reject it? Should we engage in aspects of it while rejecting other aspects of it?
If we’re all honest, we all engage in self care. We all do things we enjoy (hopefully), in order to get the most out of life. And even Moira Lawler’s article “What Is Self-Care, and Why Is It So Important for Your Health?”, featured on everydayhealth.com, states that;
Self-care is not synonymous with self-indulgence or being selfish. Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day.
Wouldn’t Solomon himself agree? He wrote, “There is nothing better for a person than to eat, drink, and enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand.” He also wrote, “It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts.” “Here is what I have seen to be good: It is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward.” “So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life that God gives him under the sun.” and “Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works.” (Eccl. 2:24; 3:13; 5:18; 8:15; 9:7)
God certainly wants us to take care of ourselves. He gave us physical bodies. He gave us things to enjoy- great food, sex, endorphins from exercise, sleep, naps, great books, films, coffee, sunsets, vacations, dates, walks, the beauty of nature, road trips, sports teams, racquetball, alcohol (must be in definite moderation), music, clothing, blankets, hugs, and even tobacco (must be in moderation).
Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, an associate professor in the department of psychological and educational consultation at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, says the need for self-care is obvious. “We have an epidemic of anxiety and depression,” she says. “Everybody feels it.”
Self-care is part of the answer to how we can all better cope with daily stressors, explains Kelsey Patel, a Los Angeles-based wellness expert. It’s work stress. It’s the stress of trying to keep up with the pace of daily life, which technology has hastened more than ever (just think how many emails come flooding into your inbox each day). “People are feeling lonelier and less able to unwind and slow down, which makes them feel more anxious and overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks,” Patel says.
Is self care the sole solution for all the anxiety and depression that we experience? Can the worries of our lives be solved by going for a walk? Can they be solved by having sex? Can they be solved by getting good sleep? Can they be solved with Door Dash delivered Chipotle and a Netflix binge? These things surely might feel good. They might help in some aspects.
But what did Jesus have to say about the anxiety and depression we all face?