Self-Care Is Not Selfish (Part 3)
As I prepare for Mass, I typically pray the Universal Prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI. In this prayer...
As I prepare for Mass, I typically pray the Universal Prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI. In this prayer, I ask for four things: to be attentive in prayer, temperate at meals, firm in my resolutions, and to maintain a well-ordered life as I believe and trust more strongly in Him.
This prayer has also impacted the way I work with women to integrate self-care techniques into their lives to reach their own wellness in mind, body, and soul. I help them by forming a personal strategy for total wellness that they can work toward by setting attainable goals. As they follow their plan and strive to reach their goals, I guide them in several aspects. Mainly, I encourage them to . . .
- anchor their day in prayer,
- practice sustainable nutrition, and
- engage in intentional and consistent exercise.
Daily Prayer & Meditation
Building a foundation of daily prayer and meditation is essential before any other progress can be made.
Though fundamentally important, prayer and meditation come in many forms: daily Mass, adoration, spiritual reading, Lectio Divina, and perhaps a time set apart for dialogue with our Lord. Regardless of the method, as we progress in prayer, we must be sure to remember the ACTS: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (Petition). The habit of prayer looks different for each woman as she moves through the different seasons of her life. For some, it might be fifteen minutes a day, and for others, it could be thirty minutes or more per day.
Nutrition & Temperance
In the Universal Prayer, Pope Clement XI reminds us to ask God for the grace to be temperate at our meals, both food and drink. Eating well-balanced and right-portioned meals reminds us to care for our bodies while being good stewards of the material gifts we have been given. For instance, temperance gives us an opportunity to remember how fortunate we are to be in a country that has a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits available to us year-round. When we work on temperance with food and other matters of the body, we grow in virtue. With this stronger, virtuous disposition, we can progress in holiness.
Living a more Catholic lifestyle leads us to good habits. Eating three balanced meals a day, hydrating properly, and rightly ordering feasting and fasting are keys to sustainable nutrition practices, as well as sustained integrated wellness.
As women, we can be very easily drawn into vanity when taking care of our bodies. But, having an active and consistent prayer life paired with a well-ordered intentional plan of wellness can help us avoid falling into the trap of vanity. Moderate to intense consistent exercise continues to be a source of transformation for the women I work with and for me.
I have witnessed firsthand how consistent prayer and exercise profoundly transform the women I work with in a positive way.
They report that they are better equipped to move through their daily challenges and able to express a real presence to others when needed. Their minds are calm, and their spirits are strong. This truly enables a woman’s God-given feminine dignity for the great works of God.
A word of caution should be noted here when discussing the integration of mind, body, and soul in the realm of exercise. Many faithful Catholic women find themselves receiving many physical benefits from the practice of yoga. We must be careful in this regard. Yoga is a religious practice rooted in Hinduism that Holy Mother Church warns against. As Christians, we place ourselves in spiritual danger when practicing yoga, whereby we are caring for the body to the detriment of our soul.
Pietra Fitness is an alternative to yoga (not “Christian yoga" or “Catholic yoga”). Each of the whole-person workouts integrates stretching and strengthening exercises with Christian prayer and meditation. This powerful combination truly benefits the entire human person; restoring harmony and wholeness to both body and soul. These flow-style workouts are designed to leave you feeling calmer, stronger, refreshed, and energized.
Dive Deeper into Your Integrated Wellness Journey
When we as women intentionally strive toward integrated wellness, we grow in virtue, strength, and dignity. We are women living out our vocations in mind, body, and soul, truly turning our wellness into a living testimony of His Glory. Pope St. John Paul II, pray for us!
Take some time to reflect and answer the following questions to work toward integrated wellness in your own life.
- How is your prayer life? Where are you falling short? In what area might you desire to invite God into and ask Him to pour out His Grace so you may fully realize integrated prayer? (ACTS)
- Am I taking the time to intentionally exercise? Do I value the gift of my physical self which God has gifted me?
- Do I honor this physical gift of self with rightly ordered self-care? Temperate meals? Enough sleep?
- Do I strive every day to do something that will take me outside of myself? A kind deed, a smile for a stranger, a hug for a friend?