I’m reading Sarah Bessey’s “Miracles and Other Reasonable Things” sent me by her publisher for review.
One thing that struck me was her distinction between self-care and self-comfort in times of sadness, stress and boredom. Bessey explains that she “numbs out in times of stress; I can use anything from food to wine to books to television to shopping.”
This is self-comfort she explains which FEELS good; self-care, on the other hand, CREATES good in our lives, the lives of our family and friends, and in the world.
I, personally, have used the first and last on the list, but I am learning not to comfort myself with things that will cause future sadness when I am tired, bored, angry, sad, or stressed, but instead to love the things that will love me back.
So chocolate, or comfort eating, or zoning out on social media or online magazines and newspapers will not love me back, but cause future sadness at the weight gain, or wasted time. I am now more regularly rating my hunger on a five point scale, and praying for the bread of the Holy Spirit rather than eat when I am not hungry, but am bored, or stressed, or low-spirited.
The things which will love me back are a long walk, yoga, meditation, decluttering, gardening, reading something challenging and nourishing, prayer, Bible-time, dance, gym-time, hanging out with friends, or with family. Interestingly, none of these cost money, or hardly anything, and they all leave me stronger, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
And that’s the difference between self-care, and self-comfort. Sugar, and chocolate (or coffee) give the brain a sudden rush of serotonin and stimulation, a certain “change of state,” but a certain descent , the need for more, and weight gain or sleep loss.
The slow steady ways of self-care take a bit longer to change one’s mood, but they leave no regret.
I, like many Christians, often forget that the love we are called to includes loving ourselves just as as much as we love anybody else. That love includes looking after after ourselves as a wise parent would look after a recalcitrant toddler.