Catholic at Home: Unplug to recharge

Catholic at Home

Jennifer Antkowiak

Over the past few days, I’ve been involved in many conversations where someone expresses that July is the month where they’re “finally taking a break.”  After such a draining year, people are longing to get away from it all. Taking regular breaks is an important part of wellness through self-care.

As a mom of five and former family caregiver who works outside the home, I’ve learned that it’s very easy to become consumed by taking care of other people and things…so much so that we put our own health and well-being on a back burner. 

When we don’t eat well, exercise, and get enough quality sleep, life feels heavy. We get cranky. We don’t make the best choices. We aren’t productive.  All of that leads to frustration and stress.

Taking care of ourselves should be easy, but, I’ve learned, it’s definitely not. Maybe you’ve caught yourself throwing up blocks like:

“I feel guilty taking time away from my family for myself.”

“I don’t have enough time for self-care.”

“Self-care is too expensive.”

People who love and serve others often put their own needs last. When we start feeling like this, we can turn to what we know about Jesus through the Bible. He made time for prayer and rest, even when He knew people needed him. One example is in Luke 5:

“The report about [Jesus] spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.” (Luke 5:15-16)

Jesus took time for spiritual self-care during his important earthly mission, knowing that connecting with his Father would give Him the strength and energy He needed to care for others.

In another favorite passage that comforts me, Jesus invites us to rest and be restored through a relationship with God:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy, laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Taking a break to care for ourselves is a blessing that allows us to release any burdens we’ve been carrying. Self-care, at its heart, is not selfish, but it’s humble. We can give ourselves the grace to recognize that we are human, with human needs, weaknesses, and limitations that must be addressed.

Instead of pushing ourselves to go-go-go all the time, we should remind ourselves that it’s safe and healthy to look take an honest account of our own needs. If we allow ourselves to get into a pattern of sacrificing our own needs, we increase our chances of becoming bitter, resentful and burned out.

That’s not what Jesus wants for us.

I hope you will make some time for yourself this month, to recharge on a regular basis so that you can have the energy you need to serve God, your loved ones, and live a full and happy life.