5 tips for self care
authenticity,  faith,  self care

5 Tips For Healthy Self Care When Life Feels Overwhelming

I don’t know what your days are like lately. But I’ll be honest. Mine have been riddled with a lot of grief, unknowns and anxiety. For the past year or so it has been literally non-ending crazy day after crazy day. After our adoption failed last year, it seemed to start a chain reaction of insanity in my life and I feel like I haven’t had a chance to breathe. Ever been there? It’s not the happiest (or healthiest) place to be, is it?

When you live in that place day after day, it becomes what your body and mind know as truth unless you fight daily against your circumstances. It’s amazing to observe this chain reaction in friends who are also wading through the “fragrant muck” of daily life.

“For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world.” – Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark, A Life In Sermons.

Have you ever been in a season of chaos? It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

I am doing my best to practice healthy self care. It’s not selfish. It’s not un-Christian. It’s not hokey. It’s important. If we aren’t fueled spiritually, emotionally and physically, what do we have left to pour out to others? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

But, here’s the tricky thing. When you exist in a land of chaos, you are often exhausted and overwhelmed. Your brain is foggy. Your body is tense. So the whole idea of self care typically flies right out the window when doing basic stuff  daily is a struggle.

When you exist in chaos mode,  you’re just happy to get out of bed each day. Yoga pants are your best friend. So is a messy bun. And let’s keep it real, if you’re lucky, you remembered to do laundry so your clothes match and are actually fresh and clean when you walk out the door. There are days when I’ve run to the store just to buy more clean undies! #truthhurts #chaosissometimesstinky #keepitreal

We all face periods of chaos. Motherhood. Divorce. Infertility. Death. Insomnia. Loss. Deadlines. Marriage issues. Family issues. Life issues. Grief issues. The list goes on and on and on and on.

So what do we do when we get to a place where daily living is itself a struggle?

First things first: BREATHE! Like, right this moment. Deep breath in, then out. Repeat.

I love this quote I found that says deep breaths are like little love notes to our bodies! #allthefeels

5 tips for self care

After we are done breathing, we clear off our crazy to do list and get down to the basics so we can start taking care of ourselves. Because, like I said, if we aren’t fueled spiritually, emotionally and physically, what do we have left to pour out to others? Zero. Nada. Zilch

5 Tips For Healthy Self Care When Life Is Overwhelming

1. Naps are your new BFF!

I have done a lot of therapy over the past year. I’m not ashamed of it. It’s been awesome. I’ve also had to visit a lot of doctors related to the effects stress has been having on my body. It’s amazing and scary to learn how stress can morph into symptoms that look a lot like cancer. But let me just say that the medical advice seems unanimous: clear off your to do list as much as possible and sleep! Take naps whenever you can. Sleep not only refreshes your body, but it helps your mind focus better and your body deal with whatever issue you are currently facing. Whether it’s challenges with a new baby, a messy marriage or the loss of a loved one or whatever life is throwing at you in this moment, you need sleep to help you cope!

2. Take time to be in God’s Word

Ok, I’m the first to admit that this is HARD. Like crazy hard. When your mind can hardly process your day and the laundry is piled high and the simple tasks of the day are hard to get through, do you really have the emotional stamina or head strength to be in God’s Word? Honestly, H E double hockey sticks no!!! That’s why you need to be creative.

Listen to life affirming podcasts (make sure they are theologically sound), spend time listening to your favorite Christian music and see if you can figure out what Bible verse your favorite songs are based on. Get a fun Bible.

Yes, I said “fun” Bible. My time in the Word doesn’t look like it used to anymore. And that is a-okay. Cut yourself some slack if you’ve been lacking in Jesus time lately. Don’t get stuck in legalism mode. And if you’re in the vicious cycle of guilt and/or feeling unworthy in this area right now, snap out of it quickly! It’s not healthy. God doesn’t want us banging ourselves up for what we are lacking, that’s the enemy talking. The Lord wants us to make the effort to be in relationship with Him daily and He loves us even if we are not consistent Bible readers.

I honestly don’t have the mental stamina to be hardcore or consistent in my Bible study right now. I’ve been so emotionally exhausted that it’s been hard to focus, so I got creative and started using Bibles that made me want to open them up because they are pretty and have been set up in ways that bring my heart some joy. I love how my She Reads Truth Bible helps me engage with Jesus.  It’s bright, fun and indexed so I don’t have to think so hard when I search for a chapter during my study time! The NIV Beautiful Word Bible also rocks. You can color and let your creative juices flow. I think it’s too heavy to carry with you wherever you go. So it sits at home.

3. Practice the fine art of saying NO!

If you are overwhelmed, the last thing you should do is tackle more, right? So why do we say yes anyway? Cuz we are a bit crazy! Plus, I don’t know about you, but I am wired to say yes! Type As usually are. Learning to say no is an art form I’ve been practicing for years and I still haven’t mastered it. If you are drowning in the sea of life, you need to clear off your to do list as much as possible and learn to say no, even to things that fuel your soul. I have had to say no to several speaking and writing opportunities this past year simply because I don’t have anything left to give to others. It’s hard to say no, especially to things that normally fuel your heart and your soul. But it’s important to learn to put your needs (sanity and health) first.

4. Eat healthy

Notice I didn’t say eat perfect. Because let’s face it, unless you are some type of self-controlled goddess or robot, that’s not going to happen when you get stressed out. Ben & Jerry’s can still be your bff. Just don’t hang out with them daily. Do your best to eat lots of protein, fruits, veggies and fats to sustain you and give you a clear mind. Do a Whole 30 if you can handle a positive challenge during this stressful season. (I’ve done 12 so far and I love this program, I learn something new every time.) Or don’t do one. It’s your choice. Just make good, healthy choices more often than bad ones and remember to eat food daily. It’s easy to forget to eat when you are in super mega stress out mode. And do your best to not let the sugar monster control you. That’s hard! Super hard. But if you can do it, you go girl!

5. Paint your nails or do something equally indulgent

I know, this one seems silly, but it isn’t. If you are a woman who loves to have her nails done, take the time to do it. If nails aren’t your thing, wear lipstick or mascara, even if you don’t wear any other makeup. One of my friends won’t leave her house without lipstick because it makes her feel special, even when she’s feeling totally messy. Small beauty indulgences can make you feel a little more put together, even on your most unraveled days. Whether it’s your toes or your hands, your eyes, your checks, your lips, it’s worth it! Buy fast drying polish if you are super time crunched. Carry lipgloss in your pocket. Whatever works.  If you love this stuff, DO IT! Trust me, it helps!

And here’s a bonus tip…

Trust in the Lord. With all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. I mean, who can, when life is crazy, right? Literal thinking itself sometimes hurts when you are totally wiped out! Plus, you often feel like you are going crazy when you try to make sense of your chaos. Chaos is called chaos for a reason. But the reality is God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good!

Our great and mighty God has a beautiful plan for your life. And sometimes, in the middle of all the storms, you just need to trust the Creator of the universe. Even when it doesn’t make any sense. God can use of all your chaos and your pain and your insanity for His glory. Just let Him!

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

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25 Comments

  • Deb

    Amen to every point, Nicki! When life is full of chaos and our hearts hurt, it’s so easy to feel like doing something denies the truth. But even if it’s just for a few minutes each day … adding something that brings joy can make a huge difference. Big hugs to you, my friend!!

  • Barbie

    Beautiful post and so needed. I’m in a season of much anxiety and inner struggle. I’m also trying to resurrect a dying blog! Welcome back!

    • nickischroeder

      I have been posting beautiful encouragement from writer friends weekly for months now as I just haven’t had it in me to start the words flowing again. It is nice to share again. I pray God gives you wisdom for your own space. If you need to host a few months of guest posts to keep your space alive and your heart focused on healing, I highly recommend it! Hugs to you sweet one!

  • Mary Geisen

    I love seeing your words on the page. Seasons of high anxiety require is to step back and choose self-care or we will self-implode. I know it sounds a little over the top, but I know from experience.

    If you are looking to link up anywhere, I would love for you to share your words at #TellHisStory at my place: marygeisen.com

  • Theresa Boedeker

    You have some great advice here. We often look at taking care of our self as selfish, but it is not. We need to take care of our self so we can keep living the crazy days and help others. These things also brighten up our day and attitude.

  • Emily

    Self Care isn’t selfish or un-Christian! Man, I needed to hear that today! Thank you for such a great reminder. As a stay at home momma of three boys…..I tend to put myself last on the list. Because of YOUR post, I am scheduling a pedicure TODAY!

  • Valerie Murray

    Amen! I want to get a massage now! Thank you for setting us free from the burden of guilt during seasons of chaos and turmoil. When we are overwhelmed it’s good to unwind and rest in God and enjoy the little things that make us happy. I love that you like pretty Bibles. I love cute coffee mugs with fun sayings, nice pens, and a good foot massage!

    • nickischroeder

      Ahhhh, now you are speaking my love language. I love all those things too. Plus fun, pretty journals – though once I buy, I have such a hard time writing in because they are so pretty! 🙂

  • Nellie

    I am sharing this post with my Seeking Sabbath Facebook group. We are actively engaged in discussion about seeking to figure out a sabbath practice in our lives, and what you have described so beautifully hits so many targets with one arrow!!! Thank you!

    • nickischroeder

      How sweet! I am glad they can encourage. Sadly it was a long painful learning process for me to get to these practices. But our God is good and is with us always, especially when we wade through all the hard stuff. Amen?

  • Beth

    Amen, sister! This is something that so many–especially young wives–miss and misunderstand. I’d say that I am now doing most if not all of these consistently, but it’s only because I’m as old as dirt and know the consequences of not doing these! Lol! Thank you for directing us most importantly to God–spending time with Him, but not beating ourselves up when we don’t. He gives more grace to us than we extend to ourselves! Thank you, Nicki! You always say the best and most important things with precision and style!

    • nickischroeder

      You are too kind. But it’s funny you say that about youth vs. experience. I was just talking with a friend yesterday and I totally agree. We were discussing how the wisdom “older” people gave us when we were younger is stuff we disregarded and then as we got older realized they knew what they were talking about. I think God sets up the Titus 2 model for a reason! 🙂 Love the fact we serve a Father who serves up abundant grace and mercy daily!

    • nickischroeder

      I am glad that they blessed you. And sorry to hear you are in a season of stress and overwhelm. Praying that it passes soon and you see God in every nook and cranny of your life right now!

  • Carmen

    Saying No more was something I had to learn. It was hard but it truly did help me be relieved from stress and wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was actually a great road to a new beginning of Me.

  • Susan

    Good to see you writing. We lost our beloved furry Sam this summer (14 years old) and although I haven’t physically plummeted, I’m in mental funk. Hard to dig out. xo

    • nickischroeder

      Oh I am so sorry you lost your sweet fur baby. Especially now that you are living farm to flat! Big hugs to you. We lost our sweet fur baby many years ago and I still miss her to pieces! xoxo

  • Cindy

    Good tips, Nicki, straight from the heart of someone who has been there! Thanks for sharing, even though I know it’s hard to think straight some days.

    • nickischroeder

      Haha, yes, we all have periods of stress in life, don’t we? It’s hard to think straight most days, with or without stress. 🙂 So I’m happy I was able to write from the heart when clarity abounded. lol Blessings xoxo

  • Diane

    Absolutely loving this as I sit here in my yoga pants with my hair up in a messy bun! I’m trudging my way through a tiring season of life with a newborn, a toddler, and a baby blog. It’s magical and amazing… and exhausting! 😉 Thanks for these sweet reminders! I’m off to paint my nails and spend some time with Jesus…

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