The term “self-care” has been thrown around in the military community for some time, especially from chaplains. It sounds very good preaching it to the masses; often times challenging when asked to apply it to our own lives. In a time where society as a whole is addicted to hurry, we tend to lose focus on what matters the most. It is important that we become intentional in slowing down to allow the appropriate levels of balance in our lives.
So what exactly is self-care, and how do we vaccinate ourselves in this practice?
Self-care is all about taking heed to all those things that will improve your health: mental, social, physical, and spiritual. From a physical sense, it is about eating nutritious food, exercising and resting regularly. Self-care is also about doing things you enjoy and having fun. The common rotation of PCS makes it challenging to practice good social health, especially when you are picking up your family and moving every few years. That is why you need to be intentional about finding ways to meet new people early on in your tour in order to enjoy fun activities together. Join interest groups (such as faith based life-groups, spousal clubs, command volunteer groups, etc.). Often times, we isolate ourselves after work and then wonder why life is lonely or boring. This is especially challenging when our closest loved ones are hundreds of miles away. North Carolina has many beautiful, picturesque places to visit and worth taking the time to enjoy, not to mention the outdoor adventures that surround us.
Self-care is also about taking time to process your emotions and avoiding the common practice found in many service members: compartmentalization. This may have its place during combat but is not so helpful when applied as our only tool to cope with stressors. Reaching out for support should be encouraged in our lives as a healthy practice. Lastly and not least, self-care is about giving up space and time to connect with God for your spiritual connection. The Bible speaks of multiple times where Jesus slipped away to pray in seclusion.
I encourage you to take time and ask this question about your life and schedule, is it worth it? Your body needs rest. Your soul needs to be recharged. There is no coincidence why the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, it was made for mankind as a gift from God. Vaccinate yourself with self-care, and begin to embrace the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.