I was recently at a seminar that pertained to keeping a balance in one’s life. The speaker revealed that the contemplative religious have longer life spans than the rest of us. The theory behind why is that they have greater balance and peace as a result of their lifestyle and personal choices to live in radical simplicity and in union with God.
I want that kind of balance and peace too. I think most people do. We want to live long, healthy lives. We want to feel more peace than stress. We want time to spend with our families and friends. We want to feel good inside. For those of us living in secular society and not in a monastery like our religious brothers and sisters, it can be harder to achieve with all of our work and home demands. Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem possible.
Over the last few years, I’ve felt prompted by God to invest more in a self-care routine. The key has been to make time for it, by saying 'no' to something else, and making consistent decisions such as to leave work on time to exercise, eat healthy food for most meals, spend time with God nightly, keep the Sabbath for rest and relaxation, and take a day off when I’m weary.
I’ve made great progress, but it’s not all roses. Some days it’s awfully hard, but God gives me the strength to keep going, keep dragging myself to the gym, keep praying, and keep investing time in caring for myself. I'm convinced that it's given me more energy and stamina to do the work God has given me.
One of the biggest problems I see around me is the need for us adults to invest more in self-care. Most adults I know are living for their kids, their activities, their work, and their social calendar. They are sacrificing their health in the process.
We need to care for ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to live out the life God has in mind for us. We need to stop saying 'yes' to more activities and responsibilities that are hurting our ability to take care of ourselves. We need to simplify our lives so we can be centered and be even more effective parents, professionals, and stewards of our gifts.
So ask yourself:
- How is your overall physical and emotional health?
- Are you exercising regularly?
- Do you eat nutritious food daily?
- How are you managing stress?
- Do you invest time in your relationship with God?
- Do you make time for leisure with family and friends?
- Do you spend time in quiet prayer, meditation, and/or reflection?
- Do you have adequate emotional support?
- Do you try to learn new things and stretch your mind intellectually?
If not, what’s holding you back? Where is your time being spent? How can you get creative to find time to care for yourself? What do you need to say ‘no’ to? What hard choices do you need to make to simplify your life to be a healthier person? What do you need to ask God for to help start better caring for yourself?
Self-care is not selfish. It's imperative. God wants you to be healthy so that He can use you to your fullest!