There is a reason behind every flight’s safety instruction that in case of an emergency, passengers should put on their oxygen masks first before attending to others.
This instruction is not being selfish. It is practical, wise, and kind. If you attend to yourself first, you have a chance of saving those who are traveling with you—your children, spouse, or friends. But when you do the opposite and put the mask first on others, you may pass out, and would possibly be the one who will be needing help. The people around you may not be as capable as you are to respond to emergency situations.
At times, we have this usual feeling of guilt when we try to take care of ourselves, or when we attend to our own needs before we address those of others. We heard of caregivers saying they did not take time to eat their meals. They did not have the chance to have a break or respite from work because they did not simply have time to do them. These practices could easily lead to burn-out.
As believers, we follow Christ’s examples and teachings of self-sacrifice like laying down our lives for our friends, providing support for the poor, the sick, and the marginalized in our society. These acts are commendable. But these verses do not suggest neglecting our needs for self-care.
Many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus retreated from everyone else to rest alone or to pray by Himself (Mark 1:9-13, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:30-32, Mark 6:45-46, Mark 14:32-42). Jesus took time to sleep, even it was inconvenient (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus also encouraged others to rest. He told Martha not to be anxious about the housework, and to join her sister, Mary to be with Him in their conversation (Luke 10: 38-42).
The practice of taking care of ourselves first does not suggest that we neglect the needs of others until our own needs are satisfied. We must understand that there is a difference between selfishness or self-absorbed, egotistical behavior, and sound self-care. The purpose of self-care is to nurture healthy and sound human attributes so we have something out of ourselves to share with others. This is not selfish at all.
We’ve all heard the wisdom that goes, “We can’t give what we don’t have.” Hence, if we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves, our energy quickly dries up and our well-being destabilizes. We may end up with nothing left to offer.
You may agree, it is easier to care for others when we are well. Our energy and joy may radiate to those we care for. So let us take the time to recharge ourselves so we can become effective caregivers and convey positivity to others.
Why Self-care is Important for Christians: https://blessedisshe.net/the-blog/why-self-care-is-important-for-christians/
What God says About Self-care: https://www.dayspring.com/articles/what-god-says-about-self-care
Balancing Selflessness and Self-care in Grief: https://whatsyourgrief.com/self-care-in-grief/