In our modern society the internet and social media is flooded with talk about self-care.  Everyone is talking, writing, tweeting, blogging, and making social media videos about it in some form or fashion.

Some Christians however, tend to think that self-care is unnecessary and even selfish.  After all, if the bible says that we should look on the interest of others more than our own (Philippians 2:4), then why should we even be entertaining the thought of "self" care?

The questions I hear most often include:

  • Is self-care biblical?
  • What is Christian self-care?
  • What does the bible say about focusing on yourself?

Prayerfully, by the end of this post, you will have a clear understanding of what self-care is, what the bible says about self-care, and how to practice it accordingly.

woman practicing self care

This post may contain affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure here.

What is Self-Care?

How do you define self-care?

Well, from a secular standpoint, there are many ways to define self-care, and what it looks like in real life practice.  From total focus on oneself, to prioritizing regular "me-time" sessions like spa days, massages, and mini-vacations.

However, the basic definition of self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health (mental, physical, emotional, social, spiritual, financial, etc.)

Based on the definition alone, self-care it is not something we should have to force on ourselves, but rather it should actually be a part of our everyday living.

On that note, let's go ahead and dive right in to see what self-care is according to the bible.


What Does the Bible Say About Practicing Self-Care?

If you are looking for verses that specifically use the term self-care, let me be the first to tell you that you won't find any - regardless of what translation you use.  However, the bible in its entirety is about how to live life well, in light of who God is, and our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The discord and confusion on the matter comes in when we take verses out of context, and use them to an extreme that was not originally intended by the writer.

Let's look at a few verses that are often used to promote the whole "self-care is selfish and unbiblical" line of thinking:

  • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
  • No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.  I Corinthians 10:24 NIV
  • Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10 NIV

When read in isolation, one could deduct that we should not focus on taking care of ourselves at all, but rather only be concerned with others.

However, if you read each of the verses above in their actual context (the full chapter they are included in) you will see that in each instance the Apostle Paul was speaking in regards to our attitude when it comes to serving others.  And not once, does he mention doing this to the point of neglecting self-care.

Now, let's look at two key verses that I'm going to use as the basis for Christian self-care:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.  (Mark 12:30-32 NIV)


In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.  (Ephesians 5:28-29 NIV)

Notice how in contrast to the first four verses we looked at, that these two verses literally tell us that we should love ourselves, and to love others in the same way.  The second verse goes on to say how we should feed and care for our body, just like Christ cares for the church.

Loving or caring for ourselves, is to love and care for others as well.  Its actually similar to our role as parents.  We can’t focus our entire energy on taking caring of our children, at the expense of not taking care of ourselves.  We would eventually burn out and get sick, and then we would be in no shape to care for them anyway.

If you put all six verses together properly in context, you’ll find that God wants us to:

  • love others in the same way in which we love ourselves and take care of our bodies
  • have a servant-like attitude in which we are always willing to set aside our own wants and desires to put the interests of others first

You see, contrary to secular belief, God never contradicts Himself.  We sometimes take His Word out of context and mis-apply it.  However, when read in proper context, all passages of Scripture work together to teach how we are to live in Christ.  This is why it is so important for us to read and study the bible.

So, now, let's utilize our definition of self-care, and look at what the bible says specifically on the topic in three key areas.


Spiritual Self-Care

Even for those of us who actually do practice self-care regularly, this is the one area in which Christians tend to struggle most.  We focus on all other areas, putting spiritual self-care last on the list, or neglect it altogether.

However, the bible teaches that spiritual self-care is the most important type of self-care, as it is the one from which all other areas of self-care stems.  

Spiritual self-care is all about cultivating our relationship with God.  And we can only do that by spending time with Him regularly, through reading His Word and prayer:

  • Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105 NIV
  • Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'  Matthew 4:4 NIV
  • Pray continually.  I Thessalonians 5:17 NIV
  • Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 NIV
  • I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Psalms 77:12 NIV
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV

When we put our relationship with God above everything else, He promises to take care of everything else:

  • Come near to God and he will come near to you.  James 4:8 NIV
  • So do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   Matthew 6:31-33 NIV
  • Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.   Psalm 1:1-2 NIV

There is no way we can learn to fully obey God, live for Him, and grow in our faith, if we have no clue what the bible says in regards to Christian living, or anything in life for that matter!

We simply cannot profess to be Christians, while continuing to neglect spending time with God.

As Christian women, spiritual self-care has to be our absolute top priority ladies.  Period!

woman reading bible


Physical Self-Care

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your bodies.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)

If you read this verse in full context, you will see that the Apostle Paul was speaking specifically on the topic of sexual immorality, and reminding the church of Corinth that they should be keeping themselves pure and honoring God with their bodies.  

In the same way, we are generally called to honor God by taking care of our bodies, which are the temples in which His Holy Spirit dwells.  Let’s look at three key areas of physical self-care, and their corresponding bible verses about taking care of your physical body.


1. A Healthy Diet

I'll start by referencing a verse we looked at earlier:

No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.  (Ephesians 5:29 NLT)

Starving ourselves is out of the question!  We must eat in order to properly nourish our bodies.   Please note that this does not include fasting, which is a completely separate topic.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do , do it all for the glory of God.  (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)

Although personally, I am an advocate for healthy eating, I won’t give you a list of things that I think you should or shouldn’t eat.  Instead, I encourage you to think about what you’re eating regularly. 

If whatever we eat or drink should glorify God, ask yourself is my current diet causing me to be overweight, sick, sluggish, weak, unfocused, and unhealthy?  How is it effecting my temple, and the work that God has called me to do?

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.  (Proverbs 23:20-21 NIV) 


Simply put, moderation is always key, no matter what your diet is.  Think of how you feel when you overeat, overindulge, or get drunk.  Unless you enjoy feeling miserable, simply practicing moderation is an easy way to work on your diet.  Plus, you will be obeying God, and you’ll feel better and be more effective!


2. Stay Active / Exercise

Don’t worry.  I’m not here to preach or dictate a physical fitness routine for you either.  In fact, the bible teaches the importance of spiritual exercise and growing in faith, more so than physical exercise.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  (1 Timothy 4:8 NIV)

Now don’t mis-interpret this to mean you should focus on spiritual growth only, and negate physical fitness altogether.  The verse says that physical training does have some value.  And the bible also has a lot to say about laziness:

  • Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.  Proverbs 13:4 NLT
  • Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.  Proverbs 21:25 NLT
  • Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Romans 12:11 NLT

At the very least, we should be active.  Move!  Do something!  Whether you hit the gym or not, its clear that as Christians, God never intended for us to be lazy.  How you stay active is up to you.  However, I’m a witness that when it comes to taking care of your body, staying active and exercising does wonders for your energy levels, and your emotional well-being.  Plus, you just feel better overall.


3. Proper Rest

This is a big one many people overlook.  Especially those of us with many responsibilities.  Some days between work, ministry, family, hobbies, and life in general, we find ourselves constantly on the go.  We push ourselves so hard, and get very little rest.  We don’t allow our bodies to recuperate.  So, we are always tired, or feeling exhausted, and worn out.

  • It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.  Psalms 127:2 NLT
  • Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’  He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.  Mark 6:31 NLT

God wants us to have proper rest daily.  Rest is important for recuperation and restoration of our bodies.  We all know there is nothing like a good night’s sleep!  Or even a mid-day nap. 

Being a person who suffers from insomnia every now and then, it is never fun to even try to run on fumes. Despite what the hecticness of our society may dictate to us, we need to get proper rest daily.  As you can see in the verse above from Mark, even when it comes to “doing the work of the Lord”, we can’t just keep going and going and going like the Energizer bunny.  Even Jesus rested! 

To summarize physical self-care, the bottom line is that we need to take care of our bodies.  They are the vessels that God has blessed us with.  Temples of the Holy Spirit within us.

If we don’t eat right, stay active, or get proper rest, we will feel miserable, burnout, and may even face unnecessary health issues.  Most importantly, we will be less effective for God.


Mental Self-Care

One of my favorite books of all time is  Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer.  It taught me to “think about what I’m thinking about”.  In other words, we have to pay attention to what is going on inside our heads.

There are plenty of negative influences all around us that seek to keep our minds set and focused on all the wrong things.  Just looking at the news alone, will be enough to get you depressed.   There is no shortage of negative, awful, nerve-racking things going on in the world around us.  Not to mention temptations of the flesh, and the allure of sin everywhere on TV, the internet, and social media.  

The only way for us to keep our thoughts in check and focused on the right things is by the power of the Holy Spirit within in us, and by spending more and more time reading God’s Word!

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Unfortunately, we can’t control every single thought that pops up in our mind.  However, we can choose what to do with those thoughts once they show up.  We can choose which thoughts to entertain or disregard. 

We can choose when and how to shift our minds to other things, when our thinking begins to drift off track.  The bible even tells us what types of things we should focus our minds on:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

The best way to fill our minds with these type things that please God is to learn to saturate ourselves with God’s Word.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

The more we read God’s Word, the more God’s Word will infiltrate our daily thoughts, and the more peace we will have!

So how do we practice mental self-care?

  • By spending more time reading God’s Word
  • By monitoring our thoughts so that we can discern good thinking from bad thinking
  • By asking God for strength to shift our line of thinking to things that are pleasing to Him


More Bible Verses About Self-Care

Lastly, but certainly not the least, it is important that we realize that taking time to simply do the things we enjoy is also a form of self-care.  In fact, true enjoyment of life ONLY comes from having the relationship that we as Christians have with God.  

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance {to the full, till it overflows}.  (John 10:10 AMP)


Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV)

Not only did Jesus die for us to have an abundant life, the bible goes on to tell us here, that God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment!  

Look at the contrast in the verse:  rich people who are putting their hope in their wealth which is uncertain and not guaranteed vs. putting their hope in God who is guaranteed to provide everything they need. We can't ever go wrong by putting our hope and trust in God.  

The more you cultivate your relationship with God, the more you will begin to enjoy life:

  • These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.  Deuteronomy 6:1-2 NIV
  • David son of Jesse was king over all Israel. He ruled over Israel forty years—seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. He died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor.  His son Solomon succeeded him as king.  I Chronicles 29:26-28 NIV
  • Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Psalm 37:3 NIV
  • So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.  Ecclesiastes 8:15 NIV
  • Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.  Isaiah 3:10 NIV

So if what you enjoy includes going to get a mani/pedi or a massage, going to the theatre to catch the latest action movie, going to a theme park with your family, taking a long weekend to go to the beach, or simply treating yourself to take out at your favorite restaurant - do it!  

woman getting pampered

We do not, nor should we feel guilty about doing the things we enjoy, especially when they are not in direct opposition to what the Word of God permits or doesn't permit us to do.

BE SURE TO ALSO READ:  


Practicing Self-Care Daily

Now that we have covered how Christians should take care of themselves, with  a better understanding of what God wants for us, we can begin practicing self-care regularly.

You may be asking yourself 'how do I start a self-care routine'?  And here are your basic steps:

  1. Make the decision to embrace what God's Word says in regards to self-care, and agree to make it a priority in your life going forward.
  2.  Prioritize spiritual self-care above all other types (if you need help getting started - grab your free Time With God Bible Reading Challenge printable)
  3.  Don't forget that God desires you to be your best self, and encourages us to take care of ourselves, so we can be better equipped to love and take care of others.  Let this be your motivation to work on your diet, stay active, and get proper rest everyday.
  4.  Saturate your mind with the promises of God to help keep you focused on positive things daily, and to keep your emotions in check.  You can start by writing down some of the verses listed in this post (in a journal, on index cards, or on post it notes), and working on memorizing them.
  5.   Make time to regularly do the things you enjoy.

It is evident that the basic concept of self-care is in fact biblical, and essential to our well-being.  The question is what areas do you need to work on?  And how quickly are you going to get started?

There is no way we can neglect self-care, and still enjoy life the way God intended.

Click to Tweet


Encourage someone else today by sharing:

Is Practicing Self-Care Actually Biblical?

Share Your Thoughts: