Every Woman’s Struggle: Self Care or Self Medicate?

Categories Christian Living

*original version posted at womendevotions.com

If you raised your eyebrows at the title, good… you should! Do we self care or self medicate?  It’s a real issue that I refuse to ignore. However, I will say that I’m referring to the socially acceptable ways to self medicate. Are those ways any better for us? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

The fact of life is women are crazy busy (not that men aren’t, but I’m a woman so I’ll tackle us this time) and there are two things I know to be true: 

  1. If you don’t intentionally choose one, you will always default to the other
  2. Self care is SO much healthier (for you and everyone around you)!

Women are busy. We’re moms. We’re wives.  We’re homemakers. We’re career women. We volunteer. The days are long and hard. Then, add in variables such as Aunt Flo’s unannounced monthly visits (we always forget she’s coming and she’s the worst guest) or your son’s generous sharing of the flu virus he picked up in 2nd grade, or your co-worker’s endless personal drama and we can become a hot mess real fast.  That being said, everybody knows …

if mama aint happy, aint nobody happy.

That goes for all women regardless if you’re actually a mama or not. The saying should honestly be, “if yo homegirl aint happy, aint nobody happy”. And…as true as that may be, it wrenches our feminine hearts. Therefore, we set out to set the scales back in balance by:

We Naturally Want to Self Medicate

When the stresses of life overwhelm us, we turn to the classics: overeating, working more, spending too much money, and almost substance abuse.

  • Over eating is easy. I know when I’m stressed nothing sounds good like a comforting casserole or hefty slice of cake. Party sized bag of Doritos all to myself while watching Fixer Upper? No biggie; I’ll have a salad tomorrow…until tomorrow turns into a repeat of today.
  • Working More makes sense. I figure if I just work like crazy the next couple of weeks then I’ll be ahead and able to deal with what life throws my way…until I become addicted to work and run to it to avoid what life’s currently tossing my direction. Running spreadsheets is so much easier than dealing with my kid’s homework or my friend’s cancer.
  • Spending makes me feel so much better about myself. When Aunt Flo calls me fat or I feel like I’ve lost influence at work, a cute new sweater and boots should do the trick or get me noticed…until the new style comes out…or I have to have the purse to go with it…or stock up because there’s a sale at my favorite boutique. But it’s never enough. Why have I spent several hundred dollars this month and still feel the same? Not only that, but now I have no money to sign my kid up for basketball!
  • Almost substance abuse is NOT substance abuse so I’m okay. Why are we even saying almost or abuse at all! It’s literally just an extra glass of wine every night or a couple extra doses of my prescription for depression. It won’t last forever…until it suddenly becomes my new routine and where I automatically go without even considering the option of turning to Jesus for relief.

We Need to Self Care

Self medicating is always the subconscious default unless we intentionally choose self care. However, the best thing you can do as a busy woman is choose self care. Care for yourself will always lead to better and more authentic care of others.  The following tips for self care are nothing new under the sun, but a reminder of them, so you can make the necessary, intentional choices.

The reason Time with God is number one under Self Care is because it’s the most important. Nothing compares to the time spent in the presence of the Lord. He feeds our soul. He tells us who He is and what He’s done for us. He tells us who we are and even gives us the identity we crave for. And through the Holy Spirit and prayer, He can guide us in our everyday moments. We can’t survive this sometimes crazy life without enough time with the Lord, at least not if we want to be spiritually healthy. It will affect every area in our lives whether we do it or not. So, the best way to self-care is by living out Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

  • Exercise. If you’re out of shape physically, then your mental and emotional shape aren’t what they could be either. Exercise is a tough one to squeeze in. I like to combine prayer time with my stair stepper in the living room, walk my dog after dinner, do 20 squats, lunges or push-ups after every trip to the bathroom, or jump back on the stair stepper during commercial breaks while watching my favorite show. You can fit it in…it just takes a little thought, but it’s so worth it! You’ll feel better AND sleep better! Which leads to…
  • Good sleep. You truly need 7 to 9 hours. I’m of the 9-hour camp myself. Exercise helps you sleep. Reading before bed relaxes you to sleep. A good mattress helps you sleep. Do whatever it takes to get good sleep.
  • Eating right. You are what you eat…’nuff said…k, bye…
  • Schedules you stick to.  No laziness allowed here! If you’re anything like me, the moment my home or workspace is out of whack, I derail. I must run things like a tight ship. My home is mostly pristine and the ball rarely drops. This keeps me at peace. A typical day of scheduled duties looks like this:
    • wake up (turn on the espresso machine)
    • while machine heats up for 10 minutes, pray while exercising on the stair stepper
    • have coffee and breakfast while doing social media for 30 minutes
    • move washer contents to the dryer, start a new load in the washer, make bed then jump in the shower
    • drop kid at school, go to work (have separate schedules there)
    • when I arrive home, fold what I removed from the dryer that morning, have kids empty dishwasher, then I refill it and wipe down the kitchen.
    • Every Wednesday I vacuum and kids mop
    • Every Saturday morning, I wipe down all bathrooms and vacuum the vehicles.

There are also monthly routines like going through the fridge and what not but you get the picture. I discipline myself to never skip any of it unless I’m totally sick or out of town. Why? Because wiping down all three bathrooms in 20 minutes on a Saturday is a lot better than spending 2 hours cleaning them one day. A quick wipe down means they never really get dirty. Because if I do the laundry every day, the infamous Mt. Laundry really never happens. Because taking 20 minutes every day to do these chores means never giving up the bulk of my Saturday in my recliner ever again.

Aaaannnnd…sticking to schedules means…

  • Margin. Like I literally just mentioned, when you do a little every day, you never have to give up a day doing a lot. That means Saturday is now Netflix day. Sunday is now whatever day. Your evenings are now free to focus solely on your kiddos. No more playing catch up because you’re always behind.
  • Hobbies. God has created you to be good at and enjoy doing certain things. Make time for them. There’s nothing worse then pent-up creative energy with no outlet or feeling a deep void in your life that you can’t make sense of. Exercise your God-given talents and gifts. It’ll feed your soul. I like to paint with watercolor. You can check some of them out on my Instagram.
  • Discipling and Counseling. Inevitably we all will need one or the other at some point in life. Recognize it and follow through. Your friends and family will thank you! Yes, it costs time and money (for counseling), but it’s an investment with high returns.

Would you agree that every woman’s silent and unsaid struggle is self care or self medication? Why or why not? Comment below!

Jen Ervig #PNW Pastor
Endorsers: @kerripom @rachelcswanson @alibradleytv @the_hutch_oven @careynieuwhof