Updated: Feb 15
Hydration — it seems simple enough. We’ve repeatedly been told the health benefits of drinking ample amounts of water. Yet according to medical experts, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Why would I begin a writing about the spirituality of self-care with the notion that we spend the majority of our adult lives dehydrated? It’s because of this — if we are neglecting our bodies’ need for water, it can be assumed we are neglecting many other aspects of basic self-care that gently walk our bodies through life and the aging process.
Self-care has become a buzzword for any type of activity that is seen as pampering the body with care and comfort. It also has become a multibillion dollar industry, as customers clamor for the latest face masque, foot massager or body treatment.
Our fast paced lives and demanding schedules also have forced self-care to be viewed as a one-off experience. That may mean squeezing in a massage at the end of the month, only to return to an unrealistic workload that constantly pushes the balance of home and career. It’s no wonder we are habitually dehydrated, as well as completely exhausted as we do our best to maintain the same pace on the cranked-up treadmill of our lives.
Self-care often competes with the unfinished items on the punch list. Guilt may also arise, as we convince ourselves that time for self-care is selfish if it compromises time with loved ones. Pressure and guilt arising from our inner dialogue of “we’re not enough” become the indestructible duo that finally silences any thought that self-care is not only desperately needed, it is a lifeline to a balanced and peaceful life.
Here is where the superficial notion of self-care in modern culture gently collides with spirituality: while an occasional massage and pedicure can be relaxing, their long-lasting benefits are not permanent if we do not embrace the need for perpetual self-care that continually nurtures and restores not only the body, but the mind and soul.
The spirituality of self-care invites us to consider how often each of us:
—> allows others’ priorities to take precedence over our own.
—> pushes aside our need for rest to tackle one more task or answer one more email.
—> ignores our body’s need for movement and nutritious food.
—> assumes we will have the time to reverse the damage caused by lack of self-care.
—> shrouds the warning signs of overload with thoughts of self-importance.
—> forgets to drink water.
—> forgets to breathe.
—> forgets to pray.
A self-care guide may offer helpful tips to bathe in salts, walk in nature and drink herbs. However, the first step in self-care that transcends the occasional massage is to embrace the concept that care of the body is intricately woven into the care of the soul.
Only then do we truly welcome our mind, body and soul into a loving conversation by asking, “What do you need?”
And then we pause.