So as you go into mission service, taking care of yourself can be hard. You are in a new place where you may know only a couple of people or you may know no one. Here are some tips to take care of yourself:
No, you cannot be on 10 church boards, attend that concert Friday afternoon, help with the youth, volunteer in the community, and work at your placement site. You are just one person. People might expect you to be really involved in the church or non-profit where you are placed. Sometimes those expectations are good, they get us out and meeting new people. However, we should consider saying, “no” when we start to feel dread about doing those things.
It is also okay to say, “no” to things that are hurting your mental health. Can’t handle negative Facebook posts? Don’t go on Facebook for a while or unfollow the person that is the problem.
I know I said we need to learn to say, “no,” and now I am contradicting that statement. Take your time, pray, and decide what you are truly passionate about. Sign up for that. Then, if after a couple of months you have more free time than you know what to do with, add something else you are passionate about. Also, since you probably don’t know anyone at your placement site, if someone invites you out to do something and you were going to stay in and watch Netflix, say, “yes,” and make a new friend instead.
Go to the doctor, dentist or therapist.
You have insurance; if you are ill, go to the doctor. You cannot be a successful servant of God if you are not feeling your best. Get healthy. My least favorite thing in the world is going to the dentist. However, going to the dentist is self-care, so once every 6 months, I suck it up, say a prayer, and remember that I am lucky that I can go to the doctor. Also, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Seeing a therapist when you are a missionary is nothing to be ashamed of.
Take your time off.
Finally, take your time off, whether this is your two days off during the week or your 4 weeks of vacation. Make sure that you are spending time doing things for yourself during this time. My husband and I love to visit family back home during our time off or go on day trips around the city where we live. Spend your time off how you want to, but don’t think that your time off isn’t important.
Self-care is radical. We are taught from a young age to not do things for ourselves first because that could be seen as selfish. Self-care is not selfish. Taking care of yourself lets you refresh and rejuvenate, so that you are able to take care of others again.
I will leave you with this:
1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV)
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
GMF US-2, Class of 2015-2017
Avondale United Methodist Church