A new way to celebrate “Treat Yourself Day”

I once opened up Facebook to a whole feed of “Treat Yourself Day” images from my friends, who were celebrating the holiday inaugurated by the sitcom Parks and Recreation.

My friends, many of them Christians, were having so much fun, and I was more than a little jealous of their pretty pedicures, new out ts, post-yoga glows, and clean houses because they had hired their cleaners for an extra day. #TreatYourself.

Now, friend, I will be the first to look you in the eye and tell you that I have well-planned wish lists for fancy little treats and luxuries from all my favorite places.

I am here for back rubs, chocolate croissants, and Netflix binges.

I can self-care with the best of them. All day. Every day.

But maybe that’s the problem.

Maybe we have so saturated the market with a message of “self-care” that’s so self-centered or so reliant on us having expendable money or time in order to “treat ourselves”,  that we forget the purpose of rest and self-care is to be refreshed to do good in our families, communities, and the world.

A new way to celebrate, "Treat Your Self"

I worry that we’re in danger of  having a self-centered view of self care— it’s all about treating myself, for my pleasure, because I’m worth it that we forget one: to looks for simple ways of self-care and two: provide opportunities for self-care for those on the margins.

In an article by NPR on millennials and self-care called “Millennials Obsession with Self-Care,” it’s reported that self-care is a 10 billion dollar industry.

Partly because more people are making it a value, but also because we equate self-care with self-indulgence: pedicures we normally wouldn’t get became a staple of our self-care, what if we took that $35 and put it towards childcare for a working mom so she can go to the gym, take a walk, or sit in a coffee shop in peace?

I think when we indulge to the point we have no room or desire to care for others, we’re not living wholeheartedly in a very brokenhearted world.

In a fascinating article in the Atlantic called “How ‘Treat Yourself’ Became a Capitalist Command,” Esther Bloom notes this about the ways we treat ourselves:

American culture, with its typical anything-worth-doing-is-worth-overdoing attitude, has reduced self-care to buying stuff and, even more counter-intuitively, to trying to become a more productive employee. In other words, active self-care was originally considered necessary to be a philosopher, typically for elite white men who had the luxury to sit and think. Now, America has democratized it by making it seemingly available to all—at least, for a price.

A new way to celebrate, "Treat Your Self"

This September is Self-Care Awareness month and my Instagram feed is filling up with beautiful ideas for self-care.

I want to do them all, go to the farmer’s market and get the ingredients for homemade jam, hike to a waterfall and enjoy a picnic on the rocks, send the kiddos off the school and enjoy a glorious Netflix binge.

I want to do it all, but at the same time I want to remember that the day after I make jam, maybe I should take a jar over to a new mama, offer to make the kiddos toast and put them down for a nap so she can get out of the house.

Maybe after my hike and picnic, I could come back home, put together a nature inspired care package for my friend going through a divorce and take it over to her.

Maybe, I can gift a month of Netflix to my friend who just graduated with her Masters but is in that awkward “in between” season of working a job she hates while she builds her resume in her field.

I think the keys to holistically practicing self-care are:

  • One: Rest, but keep it in perspective— we rest so that we can create rest for others.
  • Two: Reject the allure of our culture for more, shiny, and expensive as the standard of a “good life” or in this instance, a “good” habit of self-care.
  • Three: Remind ourselves that simple joys like a walk in the park or an afternoon nap are valid forms of rest.

When counselors and other experts tell us to practice self-care, I know that they have good intentions, but I don’t think self-care alone is a message that serves us well as Shalom Sistas— women who want to be peacemakers in our everyday lives.

I think we need to view self-care the same way we view food- it is intended to energize us to live holistically in order to seek our lives purposes.

And as much as I’m loving the canary yellow polish I chose, the most perfect pedicure is surely not my life’s purpose.

I want to love God, my family, my community, and the world to the best of my ability— so I rest and care for myself so that I can be whole. We are made whole to help make the world whole.

shalom sisters

Excerpted from Osheta Moore’s forthcoming book, Shalom Sistas. (Herald Press, 2017) Used with permission.

 

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25 Comments

  1. Katie

    As women, we are constantly told and expected to care for others. We are defined by our relationships to others- mother, wife, daugher, sister. When are women NOT putting themselves last? It’s okay to occasionally put myself first. And not so I can serve others better, but because I’m a human being who deserves joy and rest. My walk in the woods can be just about me enjoying the quiet, thank you.

    Reply
    • Susan Gehrig-Cardona

      I so agree with Katie. I don’t know who the author has been hanging out with, but there isn’t a woman in my friend group who is doing self care at the expense of her service to others. It always comes last and probably after she has had a breakdown. Kids, husbands, aging parents, school volunteering and church activities are always ahead of ourselves. Get real.

      Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      You’re so right! Self-care is so vital for us women who almost always are caring for others. Just this week, I had to tell my husband I needed to stay home and rest instead of going to a gathering because I was feeling overwhelmed. So, I agree with you. I think we need to be careful that we live balanced lives and that we think about the care of those in the margins who rarely have the support or resources necessary to practice self-care.

      Reply
  2. Missy June

    Thank you for pointing out that the ultimate goal of self care is health and wellness in order to serve others, not indulgence! It’s so easy to get over-enthusiastic and move into selfishness!

    Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      You’re welcome! It’s been a very hard lesson for me to learn and even when I was working on that chapter, a pastor friend of mine read it over and said, “Osheta, you haven’t talk about self-care for those on the margins.” and I felt terrible because I totally care about all women forming healthy life-giving practices.

      Reply
  3. Katie

    Thank you! What a great article. The consumer side of “self-care” is so important to keep in check. I think there are so many reasons that true self-care is important, but our many consumer-based solutions for it never actually hit that root cause of our exhaustion and overwhelm and then we’re still not able to care for ourselves and others in a deep way.

    Reply
    • Abbie

      Yes! Well said. Thank you.

      Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      Oh my goodness, it’s so hard to separate treating yourself from indulging yourself, isn’t it? One thing I’m trying to do is use “want” and “need” language appropriately. “I want a manicure”, “I need a nap”. Instead of using need anytime I talk about self-care. But, man is that so hard.

      Reply
  4. Smithereens

    This post is so, so important. I totally agree that self-care is sometimes confused with selfishness.

    Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      Yes! And we don’t mean to be selfish at all, do we? We’re just indented with “more, more, more”, that eventually it seeps into our self-care rhythms.

      Reply
  5. Cassie

    Yes! I’ve been having these same thoughts lately. Of course, it’s important to take care of ourselves (which to me looks more like quiet time, reading a library book, or doing a youtube yoga video rather than pedicures or a new shirt), but that shouldn’t be our primary goal in life. Like you said, it should be a moment if restoration so we can more fully take care of others rather than motivation to keep up “the good work”.

    Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      Thank you! I often wonder what is the goal of self-care/ rest? My friend Kelly Gordon has a good frame works– there’s self-care and self-soothing and too often our indulgences are really self-soothing (which is not necessarily) a bad thing, but we’re calling them self-care. I’m starting to think of therapy, spiritual direction, healthy eating, or napping as self-care and the other things I do as self-soothing. When I think like this, it helps me have a vision for how to create moments of self-care for others.

      Reply
  6. Tianna

    I think people forgot that the whole point of “Treat Yoself” day on Parks & Rec was to poke fun at our consumerist culture, as it was the two most materialistic and self-centred characters on the show doing it. I’m glad you wrote this and snapped it back in to perspective. I fully agree. ?

    Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      Thank you! Treat Yourself Day is coming next month, I’ll be interested to see what people say about that commentary on consumerist culture.

      Reply
  7. Abbie

    Amen! If you are looking for more of this perspective, look at the Frugalwoods blog – she has a lovely way of saying how we can love where we are and do what we need without spending more money!

    Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      I’ll totally check it out! I really enjoyed, “Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now” by Walter Brueggemann for guidance on how to think about self-care and rest.

      Reply
  8. Anya

    Thank you for pointing out the consumerist focus that self-care has taken on. In the Parks & Rec episode, it’s Donna and Tom shopping up a storm on stuff they can’t really afford, and it’s fun to watch, but both characters seem happier later on when they have fulfilling relationships. I think Ben (having his breakdown over losing Leslie while wearing the Batman suit) is there to point that out– he’s treated himself to the full-blown cosplay Batman suit, but he’s still in tears. I am really trying to cut back on the consumerist treats, the thought that I deserve whatever I want (usually books) right away– the mindset that leaves nothing as a treat for, say, a birthday or Christmas. My treat these days is a little bit of quiet time so that, like you said, I can get my energy back to focus on the people I love. Thank you for the thoughtful post. 🙂

    Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      You’re welcome and thank you for getting me excited to re-watch that episode. You touched on a few things I missed.

      Reply
  9. liz

    Thank you for this article!!!

    Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      You’re welcome, Liz! Thank you for joining the conversation.

      Reply
  10. Naomi

    What you wrote strongly resonates with me. I think the life of Jesus is a good example of taking time to recharge and then serve. I do believe there are times when a person may need longer periods of rest/self-care after facing a life change or for grief. But, really we should look to serve and love those around us after times of self-care. Thank you for daring to write what you did.

    Reply
    • Osheta Moore

      Oh Naomi! Thank you sharing your thoughts! I so agree with your. When you said this, ” I think the life of Jesus is a good example of taking time to recharge and then serve.” I threw my hands up and said, “YAAAAS”. There really is so much we can learn from the life of Jesus and for me, right now, I’m paying special attention to how he cared for people on the margins and how he cared for himself. Since my husband is a pastor, at times, we can overdo caring for people over overindulging because we’ve been so stressed. Jesus keeps me centered and reframes my perspective— every single time.

      Reply
  11. Shelly Wildman

    Thank you, Osheta, for putting into words what I’ve been thinking for a while. I think we need to be careful to examine our motivations for what we do and why we do it. And I love what the person above said about looking at the life of Christ as our example. He came not to be served, but to serve. Our “self-care” shouldn’t really be about the self at all. Love this post so much!

    Reply
  12. Kate

    I think this is a great perspective! I’ve often struggled with how to integrate “me time” with following Christ’s example of serving those around him, and you have wonderful insight here. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  13. Lacy

    What a wonderfully insightlful and refreshing perspective on self-care. This certainly resonates with me on a practical and spiritual level. “We are made whole to help make the world whole.” Yes! Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to reading your book.

    Reply

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