There are times when life comes at us full-force. There is no escape. No relief. It seems as if we are caught in a windstorm, fighting against the fierce elements attacking our every movement. We are left struggling with any last measure of energy to steady ourselves, to lean in, to survive.
These moments leave us feeling helpless, out of breath, spent.
We find ourselves going through our days just reacting to the chaos and crises as they level their weight against us. Whether it is our children’s activities, or our responsibilities at work; whether financial pressures or problems in our marriage, the willfulness of life measures us. It pressures us. Relentlessly.
With all of our energies exhausted, all of our focus scattered and confused, we are tempted to succumb. To give up. To give in.
In a world that puts so many terrible demands on us, that keeps us so far from the home we long to live in, the refuge we long to own, how can we experience abundance? How can we ever hope to create a life of peace in the midst of such terrible unpeace?
For each of us, we need a time out, a pause. Creating moments of self-nurture allows us to return to ourselves, return to our true identity, and perhaps return to our Heavenly Father.
Sometimes we resist self-nurture. It feels forced, coerced, nothing more than another “to-do” on a long list of projects, priorities, performances. We just don’t need another.
Sometimes we resist self-nurture because is feels selfish or lazy. We think, it must be indulgent to take care of myself. I should serve. I should give. I should sacrifice myself for the ones I love.
Yet emotionally abundant individuals have discovered that ignoring caring for ourselves will make us more likely to get physically sick (higher blood pressure, heart disease, inflammation, headaches), and in addition, will take an enormous toll on our emotional and spiritual health as well.
Perhaps that is why I believe so strongly that nurturing ourselves holds the key to be able to give to those we love the very best of ourselves, not just the exhausted, distracted, debilitated self we give them so often.
So how do we do this? Where do we begin?
Since nurturing ourselves is a very individual thing, there’s no set prescription for how or when to do it. The important thing is simply that we do it.
I’ve defined several ways we can learn to better manage stress and increase our overall health.
1. Design Daily Doses of Self-Nurture.
Try to find 20 minutes a day to do something kind for yourself. You don’t need to have a set agenda or prescribed activity. Shhh! Listen inside. What is your soul calling for, longing for? If you feel drawn to take the dog for a walk, enjoy it. If you long for a cup of tea with your favorite book, embrace it. If you desire to spend some time in prayer, savor it.
You can even take small pauses throughout the day. If you are stressed at work, take a sixty-second time-out and look at some nature photography. Go to www.calm.com and experience the sights and sounds of nature right from your computer screen. Take a quick walk outside. Light your favorite candle. You will be amazed at how a few minutes of self-nurture can re-energize and refresh you. Try it!
2. Create Meaningful Moments Each Month
Once per month, create a special moment for you. An indulgence. Set aside an afternoon for a hike in an area park or nature trail. Sit for a couple of hours in your favorite coffee shop and write in your journal. Spend a Saturday morning exploring the farmer’s market or stroll through your local antique stores. Whatever is meaningful for you to nurture your soul, to remember that you are a you, uniquely and wonderfully designed in the image of God – do that thing.
Monthly moments allow us to step outside of our schedules and routines, even just for a few hours. They ground us. They calm us. They allow us to connect with nature, with ourselves, with God.
3. Schedule Time for Annual Outings
Studies show that skipping family vacations is associated with higher risks of heart disease in both men and women. Whether booking a trip to an exotic location or getting away somewhere close by, time away from work can help refresh our focus, and being exposed to a new location or experience may boost creativity.
We all need some extended periods of “down-time.” Time without work, time without agendas, unstructured play-time. Rest. This is almost anathema in our culture, but we were not created to be human doings, we were created in the most perfect, extraordinary way by our Heavenly Father, to be human beings. Therefore, we must set aside time, to simply be, in the presence of ourselves, our families. To relax and unwind. To explore the beauty and wonder of the world around us.
Are you over-loaded today? Do fatigue, stress, and sleepless nights feel a normal, if unwelcome ritual in your routine? Do you long for something more?
Life doesn’t have to be like this. You can make small changes that will cultivate a life that is deep and rich and meaningful and yes, abundant.
Design daily doses of self-nurture.
Create meaningful moments each month.
Schedule time for annual outings.
Do you have time in your day to nurture yourself?
What are some of your favorite activities to stress and unwind?
I’d love to hear from you!