Heart And Soul – Self-Care
Martin Zerrudo: You are listening to Heart and Soul. A podcast from the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Church Of Christ. I’m your host Martin Zerrudo, and I’ll be interviewing young adults from across the world. Who are living Christian lives, but are also dealing with real-world problems. This is Heart and Soul.
Martin: Hi everyone! It’s so good to be back for another season of Heart and Soul. And wherever you are right now, as you listen to our first episode of this season, I hope you and your family are healthy and safe. Like I said, this is the first episode of this season, and we have a lot of new and exciting things that we want to introduce to you throughout the season. But one of the new changes is that I’m very happy to announce that sitting virtually beside me, in another part of the world, is Shannon Santamaria, the new co-host here at Heart and Soul. Hi Shannon!
Shannon Santamaria: Hi Martin! I’m happy to be here!
Martin: Super excited to have you join the show. What are you looking forward to most about being a part of the show?
Shannon: The genuine conversations we’re going to be having today. I think these kinds of conversations are timeless and always serve as a memory to look back to.
Martin: Couldn’t have said it better myself. So, let’s dive right into our episode for today. We’re talking about self-care. What is it? Why should we make time for self-care and what does self-care as a Christian look like? Now, the term self-care is so much more popular now than it has ever been a few years ago and may even be more practiced in certain parts of the world. But I wanted to share this definition that I found on everydayhealth.com:
Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day.
Martin: Now when we talk about self-care, what does that look like for you, Shannon?
Shannon: That’s a hard question! I can’t really define self-care except to provide myself the needs that it needs at that given moment or you know what I’ve been lacking lately in life. Whether it’s taking time for myself, going on a walk, or just meditating before prayer.
Shannon: Those are really important for self-care.
Martin: Definitely. For myself, I guess self-care is having lunch with my wife, making sure we don’t lose our synchronicity when watching a show, because we have to watch it at the same time, going outside on the balcony breathing in some fresh air, and just kind of not feeling bad about taking a little bit of time for yourself throughout the day. But on a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate yourself in terms of your self-care game?
Shannon: Oh man. My self-care game is like a solid 4. What about yours?
Martin: I’m coming in at a solid 2.5.
Shannon: I mean we do live both very stressful and very busy lives. I mean everyone does.
Shannon: Especially now, you know, post pandemic, during pandemic, everything about it. I know and we obviously need more guidance in taking care of ourselves. I mean if I’m a 4 and you’re a 2 we obviously need some help with that.
Martin: For sure.
Shannon: And I’m not afraid to ask for help! And to help us with that I want to bring in our two guests for today, first Brother Donald Pinnock a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ. Hi, Brother Donald!
Brother Donald Pinnock: Hi Shannon and hi Martin. It’s really really good to be here once again.
Martin: And joining us as well is Dr. Sydney Fontanares, a clinical psychologist from California. Thank you for being here with us.
Dr. Sydney: Hello! It’s great to be here, thank you.
Martin: Now before we get started, Dr. Sydney, what would you rate your self-care game? 1 to 10?
Dr. Sydney: 1 to 10. I’m actually quite proud of my self-care game, I would say it’s around 8.
Martin: Oh, great!
Dr. Sydney: Yeah, I guess working in the mental health field, it’s very important for myself and to be able to do the work that I do.
Martin: For sure, and in terms of certain things that you do for self-care, what would that be?
Dr. Sydney: Good question! Now that I’m on the spot, now I can’t really. I’m so proud but… Things that come up for me, I guess my self-care has changed a lot. I actually just recently had my second child. She’s about 4 months old, I have an older toddler that’s 3. So my self-care, I feel like, just looks a little bit different now. But my favorite self-care things are reading, even if it’s 5-10 minutes, also being able to have time to myself. I’m sure many moms can relate, a lot of people are just wanting your time so having time to yourself is a big deal.
Martin: Definitely, definitely. But for those who are listening, we’re talking about self-care, self-care game. taking some time to take care of ourselves. How would you exactly explain what self-care really is? We see a lot of posts on social media where it looks like getting a massage or a pedicure or devoting some time to devouring your favorite food is self-care but are we getting it right? What is self-care really and why do we need it?
Dr. Sydney: Sure again, working in the mental health field, how I’ve seen self-care as, is just taking the time to do things that help us live well and these activities help us improve both our physical health and our mental health. And our mental health also includes our emotional, our cognitive, our social wellbeing. So anything that can help us enrich those areas.
Martin: Definitely. And, Brother Donald, before I ask about the Bible, and whether it has self-care [written] in it, I want to ask you: What would rate your self-care game at from 1 to 10?
Brother Donald: Self-care game, it’s much better than it was maybe a decade ago because I believe I was a lot busier. But now as I’m getting on in my years, I really do find the time to take care, so I think I’m close to an 8. I’m going to go with Dr. Sydney, I’m close to an 8 because I really do again make the effort to look after myself.
Martin: That’s fantastic.
Brother Donald: Trying, anyway.
Martin: No, you’re doing a great job. For those who don’t know, we’re in a group chat with Brother Donald and he messages us every morning bright and early, right after his walk and he shows us his steps and it’s fantastic, Brother Donald, your level of consistency and devotion into really taking the time not only for your physical health but also your mental health. I know during those walks, you say it’s very soothing and reflective when you get a chance to take those walks in the morning.
Brother Donald: Yeah sometimes the weather is not so conducive, but I do enjoy it as much as I can anyway. It helps.
Martin: And with regards to the Bible, does it comment on this idea of self-care?
Brother Donald: Well it does, even though it may not use the expression “self-care,” but for example, we can read in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 the following:
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
[1 Thessalonians 5:23 New Revised Standard Version]
Brother Donald: So, clearly, we can see here that God wants us to be sound or healthy when it comes to our spirit, our soul and our body. And if we were to ask, for example, when it comes to looking after both our spiritual and our bodily health, if you allow me to read right away, 1 Timothy 4:8, it states this:
Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.
[1 Timothy 4:8 Today’s Today’s English Version]
Brother Donald: We all know, and I lean towards Doctor Sydney also, to attest that regular exercise is indeed beneficial for the body as well as for the mind. We can lower, for example, our stress level, we release those endorphins, those “feeling good” hormones, and also we maintain a healthy mental state. That’s why everyone should find a form and level of exercise that suits their age and also their ability. And, of course, we should consult a doctor if we’re just going to begin an exercise regimen just to make sure that what we’re considering doing is something that we can really cope [with]. And as for Godly exercise, which is far more important, how is this done? By implementing the teachings of God in our daily life. When we apply these Bible admonitions, we can properly look after our spirit, soul, and body, or meaning to say we can really tackle self-care.
Shannon: Right, Brother Donald. But I noticed that one of the things that is so common is when life gets super busy and stressful, you know, these little self-care habits that we practice go away. I think it’s one of the first things I forget or it’s sometimes the first thing that’s sacrificed because of our busy schedules. But Doctor Sydney, I want to know, why should we be more committed to taking care of ourselves during those stressful periods?
Dr. Sydney: I would say, it’s important to be even more intentional about our self-care during our stressful periods because self-care allows us to be able to help others. If you’re able to take care of yourself you can take care of others and help others and give yourself to other people. The thing that we say, again, when working in mental health, is that you can’t pour from an empty cup. So if you’re feeling empty it’s hard to give more of yourself to others. But if you’re refilling your cup, if you’re refilling yourself, you’re able to give more and give back. Also, it’s just, again, we’ve talked about just allowing it to help you in your everyday life. It helps you to be able to manage all of the stressors that you’re experiencing, all the barriers in life that you’re encountering, and just helps you live well.
Brother Donald: If I could interject, Doctor Sydney, I’d just like to say that I really admire professionals like you when it comes to this field. Because I assume that when it comes to dealing with some people who do have issues when it comes to their mental state, [whether] psychologically, emotionally, that in ways if you’re not really looking after yourself, it could affect you in adverse ways. But from listening to what you’re saying and how you’re saying it, I really feel that you have a good handle on your emotions and your mental state, and you really are doing a good job when it comes to taking care of yourself. And that’s why you’re able to help others. I just wanted to interject that.
Dr. Sydney: Oh, thank you, Brother Donald!
Brother Donald: You’re welcome!
Dr. Sydney: I really appreciate that! And I mean it’s certainly, self-care is not just for, I would say like, helping professions, but mothers, fathers… like if you’re in a relationship with another human being, it’s necessary because you do want to take care of them or be present with them.
Brother Donald: Yes. You can’t do that unless you’re really taking care of yourself. So, yes, it does make a lot of sense.
Martin: To that point, actually, I think it’s a fantastic segue to what I was having challenges with at the early onset of married life. My whole life I was very excited to be a husband, to be a head of a household, to maybe God willing a father. But during the pandemic, you’re working from home, I really, I guess you could say it was burning the candle from both ends and I really didn’t prioritize taking care of myself because I was so focused on taking care of my wife and our household and making sure we were all okay and loved ones and friends. And so there’s that level of guilt almost right? You spend a little time for yourself and you start feeling like I could’ve spent that time working more or helping more or doing more for others. So I guess, Doctor Sydney, how do we deal with that guilt? And does self-care necessarily always have to be like a 2 hour bath? What are some things that we can implement in our daily schedules that [don’t] necessarily have to take the whole day?
Dr. Sydney: Sure, I’m glad that you brought that up, Martin, because it does bring up kind of the misconception of what self-care is, and that it’s something that’s selfish. But it’s actually something again—it means that you’re being mindful of your needs, not you choosing yourself over your loved ones. There’s this one thing that I just recently read and it’s not “me first” it’s “me too”. Just because you’re like “Hey, I’m going to practice self-care” it doesn’t mean that you’re all of a sudden forgetting your loved ones and it’s just you and that’s it. You’re taking care of yourself so you can take care of others. I guess I’ve repeated that so many times, but that’s kind of, I guess, the point. And you mentioned, you know, burning the candle on both ends, and again that’s why self-care is so necessary. There is this term of “burn out” that’s been happening for a lot of people. People are struggling in their jobs and within their family and things like that. And people feel resentful or upset or, you know, they’re just more emotional, so it’s again why we practice self-care. And it doesn’t have to be a two hour, or even an hour thing, or even really thirty minutes. There are several self-care activities that we can do. Some people practice deep breathing for a couple of minutes. Some people practice going for a walk for a couple of minutes, opening the window, getting some fresh air. Sending a text to a loved one, just saying hi, or just an appreciation or a moment of gratitude for them. So there’s all these little things that you can do that can serve as building blocks. I think, kind of remembering that self-care is not just kind of a one-and-done thing, it’s something that we practice, or we should be practicing on a regular basis. So, you know, getting a massage or going to the spa is fine, but remembering that it’s not going to wipe away all the stressors in your life just because you’ve done it. It’s going to be a habit, it’s something you’ll hopefully be practicing to take care of yourself regularly.
Shannon: Doctor Sydney, I actually have another question. I know that we keep learning that there are a lot of self-care activities but what are some things that we shouldn’t necessarily do? I know that what we need to take care of is our mental and physical health, and that might look different for each and every single one of us. But is there a rule or a mindset that we should follow so that whatever self-care activity we do, we’re really nurturing ourselves and our self-care and what we need?
Dr. Sydney: Sure. I don’t think there’s necessarily a specific rule for self-care. If anything it’s exactly kind of what you said, Shannon. It looks very different for every person so just because someone says they’re walking regularly and that works for them, that doesn’t necessarily mean it works for you. It’s really finding or trying out different things and finding what works for you and again what refills your cup. I think kind of—if your mindset is that self-care is just this way, it has to be two hours of your day, it kind of becomes a barrier. You’re less likely to do so if you know that you have to invest that much time or money into it. When self-care can be absolutely free and a couple of minutes here and there, and also if it’s something that you haven’t practiced before, it doesn’t mean that you can’t just start now, too. I think a lot of people are hesitant they’re like “that’s not something that I really believed in before, where do I even start?” It’s an ongoing practice. It also changes with the different seasons of your life. Again like, for me, when I was single, no kids, I would read for hours. Now, I read maybe five minutes here and there and I feel like that still continues to refill my cup and it works for me right now.
Brother Donald: Yeah if I can jump in, those are really good habits you mentioned, Doctor Sydney. Because perhaps there are some, in an attempt to escape pressure that they may be feeling, they believe when it comes to taking care of themselves, that they can utilize substances, for example. Meaning to say they’re resorting to what may appear as a positive means of taking care of themselves but in truth, it’s really very negative. It can have adverse effects. So, what you mentioned, for example, reading a book, going for a walk, you know, getting some fresh air, even having that short but sweet conversation with a loved one. Those and other positive acts really help when it comes to taking care of our entire being. Not just physically, but again, emotionally and even psychologically so especially nowadays, we really need to look after ourselves. All people should strive to do so in a positive manner.
Shannon: Brother Donald, I’m actually curious, does the Bible also teach us this kind of discipline? Or the value of taking care of ourselves for the long term, or throughout our entire lives?
Brother Donald: Well, yes, the Bible does, it makes mention about looking after ourselves. We just read earlier when it came to the first verse, actually, of our study which was 1 Thessalonians 5:23, looking after our entire being. So, that’s not just to be done for a short period of time. We have to make it a lifestyle in many ways. It’s a lifetime commitment that we’re going to be looking after ourselves.
Martin: So, what [does] that lifetime commitment of practicing self-care look like as a Christian, Brother Donald?
Brother Donald: Well, let’s read Isaiah 41:6, let’s allow the Bible to answer:
Each helps the other and says to his brother, “Be strong!”
[Isaiah 41:6 New International Version]
Brother Donald: So, this is why we are taught to look after ourselves, so that we can look after others. Again, I turn to Doctor Sydney, because she mentioned even from the very beginning how important it is that we look after ourselves so we can look after others. Whether they be family members, our spouse, our children, or just friends. That’s why inside the Church, the Church Of Christ, we have activities that help to edify our fellow members of the Church. When it comes to, for example, the married members, when it comes to those who are young adults, not yet married and even down to the young children. We devise activities, events so that this will build up one another and also our friendship, or what we call as the love of brotherhood. And we also care for others, especially those in our respective communities. We have such drives such as food or clothing drives and our donations. We clean parks here in Canada, of course, it’s really dependent on the weather, but we do help when it comes to cleaning up our neighborhood. We do so many things in order to show and express our care and love for others and we’re able to do so because with the help of God and His teachings and living in accordance with His teachings, that is a great advantage for us to be taking care of ourselves.
Martin: That’s really amazing Brother Donald. Thank you so much for that. It just goes to show, and everytime we have a conversation with a professional specifically in the mental health field – whether it’s you Doctor Sydney, we’ve had Doctor Darwin Byson on a couple of times as well – it really shows how powerful it is when you combine the day to day practices of self-care. The things that we learn through mental health and physical health with the powerful messages and spiritual doctrines that we receive in the Church Of Christ to bolster our ability to take care of ourselves. I just want to ask really quickly, Doctor Sydney, as a medical professional, as someone who deals with a lot of different challenges every single day, and as it relates to self-care, how does being a Christian help you take care of yourself and perform your duties as a medical professional?
Dr. Sydney: I would say it really—being a Christian is a major foundation of the work that I do. A lot of the patients that I work with have… they share stories of suffering with me and what they struggle with on a day to day basis. And it helps that for me, as a Christian, to have my beliefs and my values and even having, you know, going to worship service, and having that time for myself and God. Shannon had mentioned even the time to meditate before you pray. All those activities, they support in the work that I do. I know even though I’m hearing all these stories, I know that there is a bigger reason in life, that there is something bigger than all of this. So, I don’t know if I expressed myself very well there, but it is a big deal. Worship service and even the activities, the social activities that the Church holds is just a great way to recharge and reconnect and find a lot of goodness and do self-care.
Brother Donald: If I could add, Brother Martin and Doctor Sydney, you touched on how important it is when it comes to your different services to God, especially the Worship Service and also prayer. Again, that’s a big advantage for the members of the Church Of Christ. Because, through prayer, not only do we exhibit our trust in the ability of God, but also, it gives us the confidence, does it not? After we pray, it’s like a lift. Because we know that there’s someone, and when I say someone in the sense of the Almighty God who is unlimited when it comes to His capacity or capability. He’s there to uplift us. So when we do feel the strains of life, again, we have exercise, we have those habits, those good habits that we practice to ease the pressure, to ease the tension, and then we have prayer. So, we’ve got everything in ways when it comes to overcoming those challenges and, at the same time, taking care of ourselves, now we can reach out and take care of others.
Martin: Absolutely. Such a powerful thing to hear, Brother Donald. And thank you so much for that, Doctor Sydney. You know when they say, you can’t pour… what’s the saying, Doctor Sydney? About your cup being empty? You can’t pour from an empty cup?
Dr. Sydney: Yes! You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Martin: You know and we’re all very much eager, and I’m sure our listeners all around the world are eager to be as active as we can be in our activities in the Church and our Church duties, and being able to share our faith and to edify one another in our activities. That requires our cup to be filled so that we can fulfill those different endeavors! And so, if anything, when you get to the end of it all in our conversation, I guess, self-care really allows you to worship more, to do more, to be more active, to serve more. Your ability to take some time to take care of yourself in a lot of various ways allows you to devote yourself more to worshiping and serving God. Did I get that right, Brother Donald?
Brother Donald: Yes, I totally agree, Brother Martin.
Martin: Perfect. So, I want to thank you so much again, Doctor Sydney. I don’t think this is the last time that we’ll have you on the show. Such fantastic insight. Thank you so much, again, for joining us today.
Dr. Sydney: Of course! Thank you for having me.
Martin: And thank you again so much, Brother Donald, for joining us again in our discussion. And Shannon, again, welcome to Heart and Soul! How did you feel about our first episode? What did you think?
Shannon: I’m excited for future episodes!
Martin: Absolutely. And I hope you had fun and learned as much as I did during this first episode.
Shannon: Definitely! I’m going to try and get a 10 on that self-care.
Martin: There you go. I’m going to take a three hour bath, nobody message me! So, thank you all so much for listening, we hope this episode was helpful to you all and actually we wanna hear what you thought of this episode and please join us in the conversation for all the things that we post on our Instagram @HeartandSoulConversations, we want to hear from you.
That’s it for us today. Hope we were able to help and hope you’re able to listen with all your Heart And Soul. Take care.