I have seen a lot out there in the past few years about “self care.” It ranges from talking to a therapist, to hitting the gym, to throwing on a clay face mask with your girlfriends, to binging on your favorite tv show to get some “quality alone time.” In short, it can mean a wide variety of things – there’s something for everyone.

My own forays into self care used to involve locked doors, extended periods of seclusion, treating myself to takeout, or long walks with earbuds in. I would block out any interaction with others to “reconnect” with myself.

Later, I began to take better real care of myself on a more regular basis, and self care became eating a low sugar diet and daily time spent on the treadmill at the gym. This was an improvement on my previous attempts.

Eventually, I began other practices that I didn’t label as self care at all, but which made a marked difference in my day to day life. The first of these was that I began to say my rosary every single day without exception. The second was that I became a more frequent flyer in the confession line – not because I was committing more offenses, but because I wanted to be done offending at all. This was where things really started to be better.

But they don’t always make you feel better, so it’s hard to maintain and it’s hard to remember, and its hardest to list among things that make your days better or improve your life.

In all departments, my self care has fallen off the stack of priorities more and more often, especially as major life changes derail routines. But I keep seeing it – the ever present social call toward self care. And even if it means something different to me than what they’re talking about, it’s a good reminder.

So I’m making a list of things a Catholic should do for self care. This may be more biased toward women or wives, but perhaps it is something we can modify according to our state in life. Of course, this isn’t everything, just some groundwork to begin to build.

Catholic Self Care

  • Daily prayer – if you aren’t talking to God daily, you aren’t taking care of your soul – pray with spouse and kids or by yourself, or both
  • Regular sacraments – confession allows us to remain in a state of grace and aware of our shortcomings and temptations. The Eucharist is God.
  • Protecting our influences – temptation to be in and of the world are thrown in our faces everywhere we look – guarding ourselves from exposure to negative or overly-worldly influences can mean the difference between peace and temptation
  • Consuming well – this goes with the last, but orienting ourselves to consume scripture or lives of the saints or spiritual exercises gives us something to optimistically pursue rather than just temptation to avoid
  • Holy companions – they say we become like our five best friends or the five people we spend the most time with – let that sink in, and then choose accordingly
  • Take care of your gifts – from keeping your body healthy, to keeping the home God gave you clean, and everything in between. God doesn’t give us anything to be wasted.
  • Gratitude lists – nothing makes us acknowledge how good we have it like a good old list of God’s gifts to us – everything from health and my husband to sunsets and Earl Gray go on my list
  • Making plans – nobody ever feels happy or healthy in times of stagnation – growth, momentum, and peace can all come from knowing where you want to get, and making a plan to get there

You may be thinking to yourself, “wow, that looks like a lot of work!” You are completely right, it does. It is. And sometimes we need a type of self care that allows us to rest and recuperate. There is nothing at all wrong with doing that. But this kind of self care that I’m talking about, despite being a lot of work, is the kind of care that keeps us “good” and aims our days in the right direction. When we move in the right direction and have a sense of peace about that, we need less of the self care that looks like shutting everyone out and brooding about things until we are ready to rejoin the world.

As with many things in life, it’s mind over matter. If we understand the value of this work were are here to do, we can squash the naggings of our passions and our senses, and use true “self care” to mobilize us on our path to holiness. After all, it is only in heaven with the Beatific Vision that we can be truly and fully happy, healthy, and whole.


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