Looking for a definition of self-care? Wondering whether you need to practice self-care? I'll answer both of those questions! Plus, download a FREE self-care checklist. #selfcare #mentalhealth #Proverbs31woman #stress #anxiety #depression #wholeness #4Mind4Body

The Folly of Failing to Practice Self-Care

Taking care of myself didn’t come easily for me. In fact, I almost ruined my health because I didn’t know just how important it was to practice self-care. I think women fall into the ‘self-care neglect’ category easily. After all, we grow up nurturing things—other things.

Looking for a definition of self-care? Wondering whether you need to practice self-care? I'll answer both of those questions! Plus, download a FREE self-care checklist. #selfcare #mentalhealth #Proverbs31woman #stress #anxiety #depression #wholeness #4Mind4Body

Society glorifies the Supermom who works full time, has a clean house, prepares balanced meals, shows off well-behaved kids, has a model’s figure, and a happy husband. Yeah. That doesn’t (and never has) describe me. And don’t get me started on the Proverbs 31 woman.

Society also glorifies the Supermom who stays at home, lovingly nurtures and homeschools her children, spends half her life playing taxi-driver and go-fer, runs marathons in her spare time, leads a MOPS group and a praise team at church, prepares balanced meals, and has a happy husband. That doesn’t (and never has) described me.

Of course, as a young mom, I thought I had to fit into one of the above categories. I took care of everybody but myself. And when disaster struck, I had no reserves to draw on. Because I didn’t practice self-care (and I thought doing so meant I wasn’t living up to biblical expectations), I suffered the consequences.

How do I Define Self-Care?

A lot of people mistake self-care for self-indulgence, so let me define self-care for you. Self-care is a systematic approach to nourishing yourself as a human being in all areas of your life: mental, academic and artistic, physical, and spiritual.

For years, I used self-indulgence as a miserly substitute for self-care. My husband stayed late at work, so I’d eat an extra serving of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream. The kids squabbled all day when I really wanted to lose myself in a book, so I’d go shopping and buy myself stuff. My students drove me crazy with their incessant whining, so I’d eat a dark chocolate ice-cream bar. You get the picture. Self-indulgence led to struggles with weight and debt.

I used self-indulgence as a miserly substitute for self-care. #selfcare #indulgence #fmfparty Click To Tweet

The definition of self-care is the opposite of self-indulgence. Self-care won’t make you struggle with negative consequences. But just like any other good habit, you have to practice self-care in order to gain proficiency.

My journey to better self-care started a few years after my husband miraculously recovered from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with central nervous system involvement (the lymphoma went to his brain). It started with giving myself permission to exercise on a regular basis. I then added healthier eating and more time to journal and process.

Saying, ‘yes’ to self-care also means saying, ‘no’ to other things. I learned to say no to one more cookie and reward myself with a walk, instead. Instead of reading magazines that painted a picture of what the world thought I should look like and act like, I spent more reading the Bible. I asked God what HE wanted me to look like and act like.

Change is a Process

Change didn’t happen overnight, but change DID take place. The next time disaster struck, I had the inner reserves to handle it without falling apart. That didn’t mean that disaster felt easy, but because I practiced self-care, I could keep taking care of myself while dealing with trauma.

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But if we don’t love ourselves by learning to practice self-care, we won’t have genuine love for others.

If you’d like to know more about self-care, or download a free self-care checklist, click here.

Q4U: Have you ever been guilty of failing to practice self-care? What happened?

This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!


  1. Anita,
    I have finally received the message and am taking it to heart after years of putting “self care” on the bottom of the list. I went for a massage this morning and it was wonderfully relaxing and good to get all those tension knots worked out!! As women we need to see self care as a necessity and not a luxury. You can only neglect yourself for so long until it truly catches up with you…take it from one who knows. Thanks for your wisdom!
    Bev xx

  2. what happened to me when i didn’t know how to properly take care of myself? i had to learn the hard way. in my 40’s i was mercifully in a car accident. hit from behind. no serious injury. but the chronic pain continued. as my dr. helped me sort through the different modalities to figure out the out of proportion pain (compared to the damage), we discovered that physical therapy, relaxation techniques and counseling helped me most (out of about 9 options.)
    the counseling revealed that i was caring for myself from 10th grade on. parents were missionaries. i was in the US. i tended to shield them from my concerns/worries. i didn’t have anyone caring for me when it was appropriate. yes, my husband cared for me, but he wasn’t one to tell me what i needed to do unless i got myself in way over my head.
    the other problem was that my parents didn’t know how to appropriately care for themselves so i never saw a good example in real life. the counseling offered a helpful way for me to have permission to learn objectively that the proverbs 31 woman was probably not doing all those things at once but rather over a lifetime. it makes much more sense doesn’t it…even with maids?

  3. I think I was meant to be your FMF neighbour (#59). I’ve got 19 week old twins along with 3 other kiddos aged 7, 9 & 10, so putting myself never happens. I constantly eat the wrong things and get no exercise. It’s like I’m stuck in a cycle. Reading this has made me realise I need to try and do something about it. Thank you.

  4. I have often failed to practice self-care. Being a type A person and always on the go leads itself to say that self-care is wrong. But after my diagnosis with fibro and chronic pain, I have had to learn to manage my life and take care of myself. It’s still difficult but I’m doing better

  5. I think self-care does not come easy to many women, Anita. We are so busy taking care of everyone else, we neglect ourselves. Ultimately, that leaves us depleted and unable to care for those we love. We do need to learn to say “yes” to self-care as a first response, not a last resort!
    Laurie recently posted…All Life Is an ExperimentMy Profile

  6. Great thinking! Love this post. It is not an easy task to take care of yourself, it is necessary to create habits. Thanks for writing about self-care that was really helpful for me.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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