The season of Valentine’s Day leads us into the “love is in the air” springtime. But the season can unearth major feelings of loneliness and inadequacy in a lot of us. When we feel unlovable, we face a serious problem. It’s hard to practice self-care when we question our worth. Tunnel vision overtakes us and we forget that there is a love out there besides romantic love.
Beware of the traps that this tunnel vision sets. Sometimes, it’s obvious. Jealousy or frustration at the sight of couples can be easy to spot. Other times, it’s less overt. But just a powerful and controlling.
Self hate comes in all shapes and sizes
Self hate seems like so powerful a phrase. But that’s what it can be, sometimes. We need to name it for what it is so that we can defeat it.
I never felt like self-hate affected me because I was always celebrating the love of couples around me and enjoyed their company. But in the hardest parts of my single season, I’ve noticed I crank up the dial on the negative self-humor. I make lots of jokes at my expense about being single.
Maybe for you, it’s sarcasm. Or withdrawing from your friends. Or even indulging in substances you shouldn’t. Whatever consumes you when you’re feeling apathetic, lonely or hopeless, there’s another way to channel those feelings positively. It’s self care.
Self care is trending—and for good reason
There’s a reason that self care is so popular right now. You probably see it everywhere. For secular society, it’s trending because of the celebration of “you do you.” But it’s just as prevalent in our spiritual journeys. Celebrating what it means to care for ourselves opens our hearts to other love—of God, of neighbor and eventually, of partner.
If you’re without a partner and feeling lonely, decide to spend some time with yourself—and fall in love with who God created you to be.
Here are some tips to jump into a spiritually healthy self care routine.
1. There’s no right or wrong way to take care of yourself
First, self care isn’t just face masks and bath bombs (though I’m a fan of both of those). Self care means to take time cultivating what you love and what makes you who you are. Do you love to paint? Do you enjoy singing? Walking? Baking? Whatever makes you feel alive and joyful, that’s what you should spend time doing at least once a week.
Here’s the only way you can do it “wrong”: stay plugged in.
Honestly, the time you spend trying to get to know yourself should be as screen free as possible. Give yourself the freedom and space in your mind to hear your own voice and hear the voice of the Lord.
Once you unplug, all bets are off. Your time is yours to enjoy.
2. There is no “pics or it didn’t happen”
I remember once my young cousin commenting that I never posted anything online. I remember comparing myself to my friends, posting pictures with their husbands of their adventures in apple picking or house hunting or out at trivia nights. By comparison, I was doing things that weren’t noteworthy, at least not by today’s standards. I was enjoying good books, doing jigsaw puzzles, learning to cook.
I enjoyed having beautiful moments. They just weren’t Kodak moments.
Today we live in Instagram’s world. You can be left wondering if you’re not sharing your moments of self care with the world, you’re not really living self care. Especially since #selfcare is trending, it will be more tempting than ever to show off that you’re part of something. That you’re donning your mud mask or watching a sunset with a fruity smoothie in hand.
But I urge you to resist. Time set aside for self care isn’t for anyone else. It’s for you to be off the grid, enjoying yourself.
3. Self care should be prioritized
Since the whole movement of self care came about from a borderline hedonistic society of doing what you want, when you want, it’s hard to get on board with. We’re Christian. We’re trying to live a selfless life—to do things for yourself is the opposite of that.
But this is not a consuming love of self I’m talking about. I’m not saying to give up the time you volunteer in favor of your time to disconnect. I’m definitely not saying to cut everyone else out.
What I am saying is that it’s impossible to pour from an empty cup.
It’s okay to do what you need to in order to fill yours up. You don’t need to feel guilty. You’ll love others better because of it.
4. It can (and should) be joyful.
If you take nothing else from this article, take this: this is not a pity party!
This is a time to celebrate all that God has created you to be: a painter! A thinker! A dreamer! A musician! A chef!
Here are a few things God did not create you to be: a whiner. A competitor with your fellow man. A sad sack. A jealous fiend.
We all need a good cathartic cry sometimes, but be careful not to make self care into the time you sit in bed eating pizza and watching 13 Going on 30. Or whatever it is you do at your pity parties. Maybe that’s just me.
5. We are all called to self-care
Remember that God didn’t speak in the hurricanes, the storms and the tornadoes. He spoke quietly on the wind. We are called to spend time in the silence, in the presence of God and ourselves to learn who we are and who God is asking us to be. Embrace that opportunity with an open, joyful heart.
There’s nothing profound I can personally tell you about your identity as a creation of the Lord God Most High. But I can leave you with this piece of profound truth, instead, because there is no word as true as God’s. No matter how this season has you feeling, cling to this truth and turn your heart towards love of self and love of God: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14