Christians, self care, and the spiritual path

Why Self-Care Is Part of the Spiritual Path - written by clinical psychologist Dr. Gail Brenner.

Taking good care of yourself might sound like a self-help tool to make your life a little better. But good self-care goes deeper than that. And here’s why.

When we’re caught up in the contents of our minds, we’re invariably stressed, anxious, agitated, and unhappy.

We’ve forgotten the infinite peace of our true nature—and the everyday possibility of being easeful and loving in our lives.

Self-care means taking actions to turn away from stressful thinking, creating a bridge back to the space and openness of the present moment.

And it’s here, right now, where we discover our natural capability to be relaxed, openhearted, and welcoming of all that is.

We put down the mental burdens we’ve been carrying, and in less than an instant experience a sense of well-being.

Taking care of yourself becomes possible when you realize that your attention has been caught in stressful stories and life situations. You wake up to consciously recognize that you’ve been suffering.

There’s now just enough space for a choice: to continue being pulled along by the mind’s worry and negativity or to do something else that that is more aligned with freedom from the mind.

What are the actions of self-care? Anything that feels right to you. Here are some suggestions.

As you know, I’m a big fan of conscious breathing. It’s the simplest tool that is always available to you. Who doesn’t have time to take a breath?

Taking a deep breath calms the mind, resets the nervous system, and brings your attention into the present moment.

When I invite someone who is obviously trapped in the mind to take a conscious breath, the shift is dramatic and palpable. It’s a homecoming that turns down the volume on the turbulence of the mind, making space for presence…and peace.

(For an audio recording to guide you, please click here)

Here are some more possibilities:

  • Taking a mindful walk in nature;

  • Becoming aware of whatever you’re perceiving through your five senses;

  • Reflecting on specific things you’re grateful for and feeling the gratitude in your body;

  • Dialing down the volume on self-critical thoughts;

  • Exercising;

  • Listening to music you enjoy;

  • Eating well;

  • Meditating;

  • Being with loved ones;

  • Watching something that makes you laugh;

  • Reading—a novel or something inspirational;

  • Being present with where you are and what you’re doing, ignoring the mind’s chatter.

These are small—and kind—actions you can take every day that incline your whole being toward the spaciousness and peace here in the present moment. It's here where the problems of the personal self dissolve, and you find yourself…in harmony with all of life.