Self-care “honouring ourselves in God’s eyes” 

By Mary Brazell, 8 May 2024
Guests and panellists are seen during the At the Well gathering in Blacktown in April. Image: Catholic Youth Parramatta


Looking after yourself and your mental wellbeing allows us to be good stewards of what God has blessed humanity with. 

This is one of the key messages that 40 women of different ages and experiences explored during the most recent At the Well gathering, held in April, in Blacktown. 

The gathering centred around a panel discussion on mental health and wellbeing for young women. Facilitated by Qwayne Guevara, Manager – Catholic Youth Parramatta, the audience heard from psychologist and mother Natalie Moujalli, writer, artist and mother Joy Adan and youth leader and parish secretary Malia Lolesio. 

“As women, we are always thinking about others – our children, our families, the people we’re responsible for and work for – and that often leaves very little time for us,” Natalie explained.  

“There’s a quote I heard not long ago, and it said, ‘look after your body like you’re going to live forever and look after your soul like you’re going to die tomorrow’. 

“I feel that self-care is incredibly important as we have a lot of things pulling us in a lot of different ways, and I feel it is our way of honouring ourselves in God’s eyes as well. 

Joy said that she was reminded of the importance of self-care during her year of mission work with the Archdiocese of Sydney where she was living and breathing ministry. 

“A few months in, the Auxiliary Bishop at the time sat us down and said, ‘what did God do on the seventh day? If God did it, don’t think that you’re above it’. 

“He did that in order to remind us that we need rest and to be good stewards of what He’s given us – our bodies and our souls – we need to make time to rest. 

“I think we forget that in order for us to continue to give, we must also make sure there’s time for recreation, or to re-create, and the Church in Her wisdom has told us you can set aside a day of the week for that to rest and recreate.” 

For Malia, designating time for herself is something that she preaches, but has not necessarily practised in her own personal life. 

“Having 16 nieces and nephews under the age of 10, I am always reminding my sisters that before becoming a mother, they were themselves, so even though you’ve created your own family, you always have to remember yourself as well. 

“Jesus, even in His ministry, would often have to pull himself back and go spend time alone in prayer. 

“Because we’re always so giving of ourselves and our time, we also need to reground ourselves to reflect on our purpose in life and I think it’s only in giving yourself that time to look after yourself and refocus on what your goal is or the great things that you want to do that you can look after others.” 

(L-R) Panellists Qwayne Guevara, Joy Adan, Malia Lolesio and Natalie Natalie Moujalli during the At the Well gathering in Blacktown in April. Image: Catholic Youth Parramatta

When asked for some practical tips on how to get out of these overwhelming mindsets, the panel strongly believed in looking after mind, body and spirit. 

Malia embraced an “attitude of gratitude” which is grounded in her formation in Ignatian spirituality through the Daily Examen exercise. 

“It helps with being grateful for the gifts that God has given you, allows you to do the things that you do and also reaffirm yourself in what you do. 

“It also helps to have a mindset that our life is not made for our own, we are made for community. When you put yourself in service of others, the less you think of yourself and look at life from a different perspective when you consider God and those around you.” 

Natalie said, “when I get up in the morning and I think I don’t feel the best today, mind, body and spirit, are the three things that I need to tick off to get me started.  

“I like to pick activities and prioritise them because I know that I can’t get through without them – it might be going to daily Mass, it might be going for my walk, it might be listening to worship music on my walk. 

“I need to spend time with God, I need to spend time on my mind, body and soul so that I can be of service to God. I can hear Him speaking to me and I can block out the fear, anxiety, depression and other things that circle me in a black cloud sometimes and just keep my eyes on Him.” 

Joy emphasised not looking for “quick fixes” for your mental health but things that nourish you. 

“I recommend that you take some time in the next week or so to reflect on how you cope with stresses and have been able to overcome them. Is it connecting with friends over a meal, is it going for a walk to clear your mind, going for a swim? It’s going to be different for everybody and unique to you. 

“Write it down on a piece of paper and place it somewhere that’s available to you when you’re stressed – it might be next to your computer, it might be on your bathroom mirror – of some of the short- or long-term things I can do to help me reset. 

“It’s a practical safety mechanism so that you already know that when stress comes, you’re ready to give yourself the boost you need.”  

Guests and panellists are seen during the At the Well gathering in Blacktown in April. Image: Catholic Youth Parramatta

Having seen the At the Well community grow over the past five years, Qwayne was grateful for the opportunity and space for young women, and now women of all ages, to connect and wonder about who they are and how God sees them. 

“One of the things we want to witness during these At the Well gatherings is the Gospel passage of Jesus meeting the woman at the well. In a way, this speaks to us that no matter who you are, Jesus walks with you and encounters you,” she said. 

Qwayne also acknowledged the work of Eleanor Bonwick, MET Facilitator – Catholic Youth Parramatta, who helped coordinate the At the Well gatherings and produces the At the Well podcast, which developed from the in-person gatherings, and explores questions received from women across the Diocese. The podcast is available on Spotify. 

The next At the Well in-person gathering will be held on Friday 16 August.  

Learn more about the women’s ministry in the Diocese of Parramatta on the Diocesan website. 


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