I had been invited to lead a session on self-care for a group of ministry leaders, but my host repeatedly referred to it as a session on “soul-care.” After all, the “soul” and “self” can both refer to our inner being, and in the Bible the same word may be translated as soul or inner self.
In Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength, I use the word soul to describe our inward spiritual life, but there’s some overlap with heart (representing our total well-being), mind (representing our intellectual well-being and mental health), and strength (representing our physical well-being). The point of this four-part framework for self-care isn’t to make separate categories, but to include all of life.
If you missed Part One and why I started this series, you can find it here: 25 Self-care Ideas for the Heart. This is Part Two with 25 self-care ideas for the soul below, and by the time we’re finished this series, we’ll have 100 practical self-care ideas—some free, some not, with some overlap to remind ourselves that we are whole people. As always, please feel free to add a comment with your own ideas.
25 Self-care Ideas for the Soul
- Take five slow, deep breaths
- Light a candle
- Spend time in a beautiful garden
- Bring some flowers indoors
- Visit an art museum
- Sit in silence
- Laugh at a funny video
- Let yourself cry
- Write a psalm of lament
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Read Scripture
- Pray in your own words
- Go to church worship
- Colour a picture
- Count your blessings
- Listen to music
- Play an instrument
- Sing while you’re in the shower
- Play with your dog, cat, or other pet
- Do something spontaneous
- Start the day on a positive note with devotional or other spiritual reading
- Read and memorize poetry
- Give to someone in need
- Volunteer your time to help someone else
- Get away for the weekend
For students and everyone:
If we are so distracted and our lives so fragmented that we cannot be silent before God, that itself is a sign that we have allowed too much stuff to pile up. We need to give ourselves the space and time with God to address all the issues that are accumulating inside us. To avoid these things by staying busy or filling our lives with noise only makes the soul more distressed, and our inner zoo a more dangerous place to visit.
For ministry leaders and everyone by Dallas Willard:
The “sudden” failures that appear in the lives of some ministers are never really sudden but are the surfacing of long-standing deficiencies in “the hidden person of the heart” (1 Pet. 3:4, NASB). . . .
The people to whom we minister and speak will not recall 99 percent of what we say to them. But they will never forget the kind of persons we are. . . . The quality of our souls will indelibly touch others for good or for ill.
Prayer, Use of Scripture, Soul Searching, Simplicity, Solitude & Silence, Spiritual Friendship, Journaling.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: What self-care ideas for the soul can you add to this list?
For more on everyday acts of faith,