Part 1 of a 2-Part Series
Busy is a way of life for most people. Our days are filled with work, school, programs, projects and schedules. In the midst of the rush, we often neglect taking care of ourselves for many reasons such as:
“I don’t have enough time.”
“I am not accomplishing enough.”
“I need to be busy.”
“Other people are more important than my needs.”
“I need to take care of others before myself.”
“Taking care of myself is selfish.”
“Taking care of myself is a sign of weakness.”
Somehow there is always something “more important” for us to do, so we put our health on the back burner. When we over extend ourselves, we tend to not listen to the warning signals our body, mind, spirit, and emotions communicating to us. For example, your body might be full of tension and exhaustion. Your mind might be ruminating over your “to do list” and focusing on worries. You may be irritable and crying easily. You may even feel distant from God and your spiritual walk may seem dry. In sum, lack of self-care may manifest itself by anxiousness, depression, insomnia and short temper. Ignoring these signs will lead to eventually lead to burnout.
The Danger of Running on Empty
Imagine you are comprised of several different “tanks:” emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental. Each of these areas must be filled to avoid burnout and thrive in life. What happens when you ignore your gas light and continue to drive your car? Your car will start to run on fumes and breakdown. Repairing the damages after the fact will be more complicated. However, if you had stopped to refill, this would simply require a trip the gas station. Just like your car needs fuel to drive, you need to not only “fuel up” but be intentional about taking a holistic approach to filling up when approaching self-care. Most burnout can be avoided by simply being intentional with your time and establishing good boundaries.
There are many steps you can take to prevent burnout. In this series, I will be exploring these steps in-depth, starting with two essential ways you can reinvent and refresh your perspective of self care: knowing your limits, and managing your time.
Be Aware of Your Limits
Listening to your limitations means that if you are feeling depressed, anxious or exhausted you are starting to trouble shoot the problem and taking the necessary steps to care for yourself. Listening to your limitations is not a weakness, but a sign of strength and wisdom. This is not to say you stop growing or challenging yourself, but instead being smarter in how you care for yourself so you can maximize your potential. For example if you know social interactions drain you, build in some extra alone time before a big social event. For some, acknowledging limitations can create feelings of shame or inadequacy. Remember no one is perfect and everyone has limitations. God built each of us uniquely with different strengths, gifting and capacities, so it’s important to not compare your limitations to others. Have realistic expectations of yourself and remember you can only do your best and you are only human. When we respect and accept ourselves the way we were made and respect our humanness, we will be much happier and satisfied.
Being a Good Steward With Your Time, Talents, and Energy
Stewardship is a central principle in the Bible. Stewardship is defined as ” the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.” God gave humanity the earth and our bodies to take care of. We only have a certain amount of time, talents and energy and need to be wise with how we spend these gifts. It’s important to prioritize your life and maintain balance. Be intentional with how you fill up your time and allow yourself to say no. Before you say yes, think about maintaining a full tank. Cloud & Townsend, the author of Boundaries, state that stewardship sets limits in a way that honors our lives as gifts from God. Did you know that God cares about your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being? Recognizing your value in Christ will help you realize that you are something worth caring for and that you are caring for someone that God lavishly loves. Understanding your value and God’s love for you will also help you love others more authentically.
Christian Counseling Can Teach You Self-Care Skills
Caring for personal health and well-being should be an essential part of everyone’s life. But more and more people find it difficult to know how to start setting up the boundaries and priorities that will keep them healthy and happy. If you are at all concerned that you may be headed for burnout, a good first step would be to contact a Christian counselor. Christian counseling not only provides a unique opportunity to learn self-care strategies, but also allows you space to process your stress and renew your strength. Please do not hesitate to contact me to learn more about how Christian Counseling can help you learn healthy self-care skills. I would be delighted to partner with you on your journey to wholeness and happiness!
Images cc: freedigitalphotos.net- Woman warming up by Andy Newson and Woman practices yoga by tiverylucky