What is (and isn’t) Catholic self-care?

Three Types of Self-care for Catholics

Self-care is so badly explained, especially in Catholic circles.

Our secular culture tells us that self-care is mani-pedis, lush meals, expensive vacations.

Our Catholic faith tells us not to be greedy or gluttonous or neglect the poor.

Real self-care is less about self-indulgence and more about self-preservation. It’s the bare minimum of stuff we do and don’t do to keep ourselves functioning virtuously.

My experience tells me that authentic Catholic self-care manifests in three ways.

[Disclosure: This is a super-fast summary of a webinar I gave for the members of Catholic in Recovery+ in November of 2022.]

#1: Inclusive Self-care

Inclusive self-care is the stuff we do to keep ourselves living in virtue: hygiene, nourishing ourselves with food rather than numbing, regular reception of the sacraments, exercise not to punish ourselves but to live fully in the bodies God gave us.

#2: Exclusive Self-care

Exclusive self-care is the stuff we avoid in order to keep ourselves living in virtue: overindulgence, self-destructive thoughts, people who treat us badly and show no sign of repentence.

#3 Trinitarian Self-care

Trinitarian self-care is the stuff we do to cultivate nourishing relationships in our lives. God is a Trinity. God is infinite relationship. If we are made in God’s image and likeness, we can only thrive in thriving relationships. Pope Saint John Paul II put it best when he said, “Man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion.”

Which of these types of self-care is most difficult for you?

If you’ve been searching for a Catholic diet plan, Catholic spiritual weight loss program, or just been growing increasingly desperate for relief from emotional eating and compulsive food behaviors and want to lean on your Catholic faith as your path to a new way of eating with peace and joy, check out my course Filled with Good: Theology of the Body for Food Addicts.

2 comments

  1. I love this Erin! “Self-care” always makes me uncomfortable because I associate with all of those secular indulgences I can’t justify. Seeing everything you’re sharing gives me such joy because it’s so beautifully applying JPII’s Theology of the Body. For decades, I think people were speaking only of its sexual applications, but it’s that and so much more.

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