Oftentimes, it’s hard for Catholics to think of themselves. We are taught to give to the poor, minister to the sick, share the Word of Jesus. We must always obey the commandments and avoid selfish sins. However, the greatest commandment states to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), and how can we love others if we aren’t loving ourselves?
It is not selfish to love yourself, it’s selfish when we think of only ourselves. The Lord wants us to love ourselves just as He would love us. He wants us to keep our body, mind, and soul healthy. In order to minister to others, we must minister to ourselves and practice self-love and self-care to restore and refresh us. Here are a few healthy ways I have practiced self-care to better love myself and feel God’s love for me.
1. Clean your space
I don’t know about you, but for me when my space is messy I feel anxious. My mind feels like a mess, I can’t focus on my work, and ultimately feel frozen. Cleaning up my space makes me feel refreshed. Even if my space isn’t that messy, I take the time to rearrange my desk, clean my makeup brushes, or wash my bedding. Doing the act of cleaning not only physically cleans my space, but mentally cleans my mind.
We adjust our habits at different stages in our lives, and when a change happens in my life, cleaning my space kind of falls through the cracks. Cleaning can look different for all of us, whether we pass on chores to our kids, rely on our spouse, or take it on our own. Everyone deserves a tidy space, and when I feel frozen or overwhelmed by the mess, I turn to others for help. Sometimes I ask for assistance, detach myself from the space to return with fresh eyes, or watch an episode of a home makeover show to get me motivated.
2. Treat yourself
There’s a difference between treating ourselves and spoiling ourselves, and I used to not allow myself to get/do the things I wanted because I felt I was spoiling myself. I felt doing something for myself should be a reward I needed to earn after completing a task, saving up to a certain amount, or when my life was on the “right track.” Now I know there is never really a “right time” for anything, and it can be unhealthy to attach rewards to completing a task.
Treating yourself tends to have a negative selfish connotation to it, but it shouldn’t. Once in a while, we should just treat ourselves to something that brings us joy. It could be stopping by your favorite bookstore, ordering in your favorite meal, taking a long bath/shower, watching your comfort movie, or doing a face mask. We all deserve to give ourselves a little treat every so often.
3. Nurture your hobby
We all have a hobby (or multiple like me) that we tend to put on the back burner. My hobby happens to be my passion, which is makeup and cosplay, and it always brings me joy when I get to be creative. Like me, your hobby can be your passion, and if you’re also like me you might be struggling to keep the passion alive. Because our hobbies tend to be things we’re passionate about, it can be fulfilling when we are actively pursuing it, or crushing when we feel we don’t have time for it anymore, or worse, see it as useless.Our passions and gifts are given to us by God. He wants to see us utilizing them, nurturing them.
Our passions and gifts are given to us by God. He wants to see us utilizing them, nurturing them. Because these are gifts from God, we often get attacked with negative self-sabotaging thoughts to prevent us from feeling the joy we get from our hobbies. The point of our hobbies doesn’t have to be for fame, recognition, or profit. We each gain more than those simple notions when we nurture our God given gifts. Taking a few minutes to paint, garden, write or whatever your hobby is, can fill you with so much joy and life.
4. Go to adoration
Adoration gives me the peace I need when I’m overwhelmed, anxious, and in need of a refresh. It tends to be my alone time with the Lord, as I go on my own during my lunch break, and for only 15 minutes I spend time in peaceful silence. Though I come out of the chapel feeling sleepy, it’s a relaxing self-care time for my soul. Those 15 minutes in my day make all the difference in my day and even my week.
The Lord likes to reach out to us in many different ways, and He’s kept reaching out to me through adoration. I’ve been going to weekly adoration for over 4 years now. It’s the only consistent form of prayer I’ve kept through this time. This relationship with the Lord brings me so much peace, and I feel His love for me. The Blessed Sacrament reminds me of His sacrifice and love for us, which helps to love myself. I remember the words Christ spoke to St. Gertrude, “My Heart is so passionately enamored of thee that, were it necessary in order to save thee, I would again willingly endure, for thee alone, all that I have suffered for the salvation of the whole world.”
5. Read God’s love for us
The Lord loves us, and desperately wants to show us this love. He wants us to love ourselves, just as He loves us, which I know can be difficult to do. Too often we are our harshest critics, feeling and thinking things about ourselves which most of the time aren’t true. In those moments, I see the Lord taking my face in His hands and whispering lovely truths about myself that I should start believing.
The best way I’ve learned to love myself is by learning how we are loved through the Lord’s eyes. Jesus adorns us as His beloved, and He constantly reminds us in scripture of His love:
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”Zephanian3:17
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”John 15:9
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are mine.”Isaiah 43:1
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”Ephesians 2:10