Self-Care for Body and Spirit

“Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31).

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The New International Version translates Jesus’s words as “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” which highlights a point often overlooked even by Christian self-care writers: it’s important to “get away from everything” at times, but the “everything” was never meant to include God. If we routinely find weekends “too short,” or time-off periods conducive to depression, we may be shortchanging ourselves by neglecting the spiritual element.

Not that days off are useless unless spent in deliberate prayer. However, in seeking a life balance with time for work, active play, at-ease leisure, eating, sleeping, just-sitting-and-thinking–and, yes, organized worship and private quiet time–we sometimes forget that our God is the Element that runs through all the above, the One in Whom “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17, NIV). As noted in the classic Practice of the Presence of God, when you cultivate a worshipful and grateful mindset, doing the dishes can be every bit as “spiritual” as praying in a chapel.

So can doing a crossword puzzle, soaking in a hot bath, or enjoying a cup of tea with fresh-baked scones. Meet my latest Top 10 list: ways to practice godly self-care so it brings deep joy and refreshment.

  1. Remember that God wants your heart even more than your service. He doesn’t even want just your worship: He wants to be your close Friend Who delights in sharing your times of pleasure.
  2. Consider what you as an individual find genuinely restorative. It can be commendable and even spiritual to watch someone else’s favorite TV show because they enjoy it more with company, but it’s not an act of self-care unless you also enjoy the show for its own sake.
  3. You may feel most recharged after playing group games, or after taking a long solitary stroll–but whatever your dominant inclinations, look for a long-term mix of activities that include socialization, private time, exercise, and relaxation. Doing the same thing every single time will eventually tip your life out of balance and burn you out on the activity (and the rest of life).
  4. If you do have one or two primary favorite activities, look for ways to add challenge and/or variety. Don’t ever let yourself get into a rut.
  5. Begin every self-care activity by consciously dedicating it to God. If your mind has been prone to slipping away from God during relaxation, ask Him to periodically remind you of His presence.
  6. If you’re tempted to feel guilty about taking time for yourself when “others need me so much,” ask God to show you specific ways that self-care strengthens you to serve Him, and others, more effectively. Also, remember it’s not your job to hold the universe together: memorize a dozen Scripture verses on God’s authority and power.
  7. Keep a journal of new insights into God’s care that come during your relaxation periods.
  8. Include some Creation (outdoor) time in your self-care periods, even if that just means sitting on a bench to watch a video clip–or opening your bathroom window to God’s fresh air.
  9. Shut off your smartphone’s Message notifications, or turn communications devices off completely. Any interruption (even one that requires no response) smacks of “multitasking” and distracts from mindful attention to the activity at hand.
  10. Preschedule self-care time on your calendar, and treat it as a solid commitment. “When I get around to it” is not a legitimate time slot. Honor time-for-refreshment as the Divine gift–and the reminder of God’s care for you–that it is!

But Can I Be Sure?

“But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God … You complained in your tents and said, ‘The LORD must hate us. That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt–to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered'” (Deuteronomy 1:26-27).

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

“For we live by believing and not by seeing” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

It’s a challenge to live by faith that God has our best interests at heart, that He will make all things work out for good–and, perhaps especially, that He still cares when we plead for relief and get more tough challenges instead. Before we cast stones at the ancient Israelites for whining, “God must hate us to assign us this suicide mission,” we’d better check whether we make any habit of demanding, “Prove You love me by clearing out those obstacles first.” Can you claim blamelessness there? I know I can’t.

Faith is a muscle: it grows only when pressed to higher levels. Can you imagine an elite athlete saying to her coach, “I’m bored with all this training and it leaves me achy, and I feel like spending nights with candy bars and movies for a while. Besides, I’ve already won one race for you, and I’ve done my exercising the whole two weeks since and haven’t gotten anything new for it. If you really care about me succeeding, why don’t you fix it so I can get to the Olympic gold quicker and without all this hassle?”

Ludicrous, right? Athletes don’t become elite with that attitude. Neither do entrepreneurs, authors, or Ivy League students, or even everyday people who stand out for “doing” everyday life outstandingly. There are, however, plenty of wannabes who dream of such success–who even pray for it–but are afraid of putting in their full effort only to see it fall short in the end. Just as the Israelites were. Laziness, timidity, and lack of faith are closer kin than we often realize.

What’s the alternative to going forward, though? Return to the “devil we know,” as the Israelites considered returning to Egypt? Wander aimlessly until we burn out, as most of them actually did? Wouldn’t it be better to surrender to God’s will, take the chance, and let our faith in His leading grow with our progress?

I like Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Sure, even star athletes don’t make 100 percent of the shots they do take–typically, more misses than hits remains the norm throughout the greatest superstar’s career. But the truly successful don’t see a “miss” as evidence God doesn’t care about them. They see it as His training method for their ultimately achieving more than they ever could with an easy ride.

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PREVIEW! Overcoming COVID-Era Excuses For Pessimism

When I created the 100 WAYS TO LIVE AS AN OPTIMIST brand in 2019, I noted at the start that we fight the fact of living “in a pessimistic world.” And 2020 has, if anything, made that an understatement. Large-scale protests. Racist violence. Vitriolic national elections that many suspect will drag on as an “I was robbed and I will never concede” battle long after the popular vote is counted. And, hovering over everything else from the beginning and with no clear end in sight, the specter of the COVID-19 pandemic which has left life not-quite-the-same for anybody.

Small wonder that most of us are feeling optimism-challenged at best.

It’s with that in mind that I’ve created a supplemental e-booklet to 100 Ways to Live as an Optimist in a Pessimistic World: to show how the book’s advice still applies in the COVID-19 era, and specifically to neutralize COVID-related excuses for surrendering to negativity.

Here’s the preview for that booklet:

Excuse #1: “I can’t stand the arbitrary restrictions.” How to keep things in perspective–and stay cheerful even if you hate doing your own cooking or wearing a face mask. (Masks make my glasses steam up too; but there are ways to live happily with even that.)

Excuse #2: “Life has gotten boring and claustrophobic.” How to make maximum use of at-home time–even after the obvious DIY projects are finished.

Excuse #3: “I’m afraid of getting COVID.” How to minimize your anxieties there–and physically minimize your risks of suffering serious harm.

Excuse #4: “I miss the way things were.” Change would have eventually come anyway, one way or another. How to let go of the past and look optimistically to the future.

Excuse #5: “I can’t keep up with the changes.” How to manage your life for less stress–and avoid trying to solve tomorrow’s problems today.

Excuse #6: “My career/budget is a mess.” It can seem that way not only to those whose work has been cut by shutdowns, but to those in fields where responsibilities have increased. How to take a realistic look at your career/financial situation and options–and plan wisely to survive and thrive, in both the present situation and the next stage.

Excuse #7: “I have/my loved one has COVID.” How to get through both mild and severe cases (first rule: don’t panic!)–and how to salvage hope if the unthinkable happens.

Excuse #8: “Everything just keeps getting worse.” How to minimize your exposure to channels that encourage such thinking–while maximizing optimistic input.

Excuse #9: “I’m helpless to do anything about this.” No one is ever 100 percent helpless while living and conscious. How to look realistically at where you are, how you’re affected, and what you can do. (Then do it!)

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The booklet will be officially published on Friday, November 13 (just to prove we don’t have to be scared by every rumor, LOL!), but you can reserve your copy right now. Just reply to this message or send a separate email to info@positivecontentfactory.com, and I’ll email you your copy on the publication date.

Plus, the booklet is FREE OF CHARGE to everyone who reserves a copy before November 13!

Looking forward to sharing this special with you all!

Peace and blessings!       -Katherine 

Social media readers: sign up for weekly mailings and our Facebook group, and learn more ways to live as an optimist!

  • A blog for naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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  • About Me

    I am the go-to writer for people with tough stress issues and special emotional needs—and for those who love them, organizations that serve them, and anyone who just wants to better understand the world of mental/emotional struggles. Or who just wants to pick up some good stress-management tips! Visit my main website at www.PositiveContentFactory.com.

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    Bible quotes used in this blog are from the New Living Translation or the New International Version (1984). See http://www.biblegateway.com/ for copyright details.
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