According to WHO, burnout is now an official clinical syndrome and has been on the rise in recent years as a serious mental-health issue. Many factors contribute to burnout and without proper management of these stressors in our lives, we are guaranteed to see undesirable effects to our body– mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Self-care has become a catch-all remedy for burnout. But what exactly is self-care? Some people may classify self-care as an act of service for themselves. This can range from getting a Swedish massage every other week to buying a nice gift for yourself after finishing up a stressful busy season. But if self-care was really that simple– an act of service for yourself, would burnout become so serious to be considered a clinical syndrome?
Let’s not throw self-care out the window so quickly. Rather, join me in looking at self-care in a biblical context to see how it helps to bring me sustained rest and healing.
First, let’s look at what the Bible has to say about rest:
God puts emphasis on rest and even commands us to rest numerous times throughout the Bible (Mark 6:31, Exodus 20:8-11, Exodus, 23:12, Leviticus 25:4, Deuteronomy 5:12-14). Why?
Because it is good.
I believe Jesus is the exact and perfect image of God in human form. With this belief, wouldn’t it make sense to follow Jesus’ footsteps? Even Jesus rested, shouldn’t we?
Specifically, in Mark 4 we see Jesus was resting in the boat in the middle of a huge storm. He wasn’t always working 24/7, instead he took time to pause and rest in his time even in the midst of a storm that his disciples were in complete panic about! To rest, means to have faith that our Father will take care of everything according to his plan EVEN in the midst of the chaos in our lives.
Then what is biblical rest?
Is rest simply throwing your hands up in the air and letting go of everything including your responsibilities, your calling, your faith, and your identity? No. To rest is the act of letting go of a tight grip around every aspect of our lives and giving it up to our Lord in faith. The aspect of faith is ongoing in order to help us actively put our worries to rest.
How do I know giving my worries a “rest” will bring me rest?
Because He promises it numerous times in the Bible (John 14:27, Matthew, 11:28-29. Psalm 23:2-3, Proverbs 1:33, John 16:33). If we go to him with all of our worries, our burdens, our stress, he promises that he will refresh our souls and that our souls will find rest.
So where does self-care come in and how can we practice it in a biblical way?
Knowing that we do not have to carry the heavy burden of being in control of every situation in our lives, we practice self-care by:
- Depending on him as our Source of rest
- Though a spa day, a new manicure, or a movie night are great ways to destress and relax, these are all temporary solutions that do not provide true restoration and renewal. Instead of depending on these things, we should use them as tools to help us loosen the tight grip we have around our lives at the moment. To experience sustained rest rests (no pun intended) on our relationship with (or our faith in) the source–Jesus!
- Focusing on the Creator’s purpose for his creation, which is to worship and glorify him.
- In order to give our bodies up to him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), we must take care of our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Just like a well needs water to fulfill its function to supply water, we also need rest to function as God intended so that we can glorify Him and serve others. We are called to be the best version of ourselves so that we can offer the best version to the Lord and the people he placed in our lives. When we take measures to take care of ourselves, we are able to function optimally.
What self-care looks like for me:
- Eating nutritious foods
- Exercising regularly
- Getting enough sleep
- Seeking counsel from mentors
- Last but definitely not least, meditating on the word to receive true rest and motivation that is freely given to me. Instead of meditating to calm my mind or set my intentions, I meditate on the Truth which promises rest and reminds me of my purpose.