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
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
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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