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Taking Care of the Self - A Message of Mental Health and Wellness from Joselyn Spence

As the Director of Mental Health and Wellness for the National Benevolent Association (NBA), I lead a lot of workshops and write curriculum around self-care for our partners, peer learning, and wellness groups, as well as clergy and lay leaders across the country. The World Health Organization defines self-care as: “The ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.” Oftentimes, people think that self-care is solely about taking bubble baths, getting massages, or other regular maintenance activities. However, self-care is more of a holistic practice in which we are empowered to ensure we are well in all areas of our lives.

I believe self-care is an opportunity for us to be mindful of knowing how we are and what we need, which is good for our mental health, and allows us to engage in more effective communal care. While this reflection focuses on self-care, I mention communal care because we cannot do the work of self-care alone! To maintain our wellness, we need people, institutions, and systems who also support us and invest in our holistic care. In addition, for National Minority Mental Health Month, also called Mental Health Liberation Month by the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, it is imperative to note the necessity of communities, institutions, and systems creating spaces, policies, and resources for the wellness of marginalized individuals and communities.  


The intersection of self-care and mental health is so important because as I mentioned before, being mindful of how we are feeling and what we need, then providing those things for ourselves (or asking for help!) are key mental health care tools. Self-care also helps us navigate stress better by proactively using self-care before, during, and after a stressful experience. Some of the most overlooked but most valuable self-care practices include setting boundaries, getting more rest, pausing to check in with self, and being kind to ourselves. These are all practices we do every single day, yet some people may feel they are not doing self-care well because their focus is on practices that have been marketed like the bubble baths. For people who may feel they do not have a wealth of self-care tools, I would encourage you to ask yourself, “What have I done today to take care of me?” and really focus on the actions no matter how small they are. We all are engaging in self-care throughout the day and sometimes need to give ourselves more credit and prioritize what we are already doing well instead of focusing on adding more popular self-care activities.  

Some of the holistic areas of self-care and questions to reflect on include:  

Physical Self-Care:  

  • How am I taking care of my body?

Psychological/Emotional Self-Care:  

  • How am I taking care of my emotions and my mind?

Social Self-Care:  

  • How am I taking care of the ways I engage with others?  

Spiritual Self-Care:  

  • How am I taking care of my spirit? (especially separate from any ministry work!)

Professional Self-Care:  

  • How am I taking care of my professional self?


I take care of my mental health by being mindful of my holistic wellness. As our mental and emotional wellness are intertwined with the other dimensions of wellness like physical, social, and vocational wellness, this looks like taking time to practice a true weekly sabbath and being aware of my physical needs because they greatly impact our mental health! I eat nutrient dense foods and drink more than enough water. I practice mindfulness, do yoga, journal, and make time to laugh and play. I also check in with my therapist once a month to process anything I need to. Finally, I set boundaries not just with others but with myself and create systems to hold myself accountable to taking care of my wellness and other things I said I would do.  

In closing, self-care is one of God’s gifts to us to make sure we continue to be well and experience the abundant life Jesus came for us to have. It is a blessing to care for ourselves, to be an active agent in our wellness, and to name our needs and ask for help. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 tells us that our bodies are the temple of God. Romans 12:2 tells us to renew our minds, and there are countless scriptures detailing the importance of sabbath and rest. I encourage us all to take time this summer to focus on an intentional rest practice, setting boundaries, and caring for our bodies for self-care.  


Joselyn Spence, LPC, CCTP, ATR, RYT serves as Director of Mental Health and Wellness for the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where she cares for clergy, congregations, and communities by designing and implementing programs promoting holistic wellness. Joselyn graduated from Candler School of Theology, Emory University (M.Div.), Eastern Virginia Medical School, (MS in Counseling and Art Therapy), and the University of Virginia (BA in Studies in Women and Gender and African American Studies). 


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