How do you take care of yourself? Are there some fundamental things that you do on a regular basis to tend to your soul needs? I have found that there are three areas of life that, when neglected, can be the source of a dry and weary soul. On the other hand, much can be accomplished in our lives and in the lives of others if these three categories are given mindful attention:
Our bodies need rest in order to function properly. This probably sounds obvious but, in reality, many people ignore the physical signs of unrest. So, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I replacing rest with other things that promise fulfillment but really only bring busy-ness?”
When we do too much, even in the name of Christian service, we can get burned out and depleted very quickly. How does your body show you when it needs a cat nap? Simple, you become achy in your bones, your brain gets a bit foggy, and your attitude is just plain cranky.
Mentally, you are not able to function well enough to complete assignments or work tasks. Emotionally, you are all over the place from one minute to the next. Physically, you don’t want to get up off the couch. Does this sound familiar? If so, do yourself a favor and take some time to rest. Turn off the television. Put down the phone. Social media will still be active when you wake up. And you just might rise and shine with a whole new perspective on life.
We need people. As the first line of John Donne’s famous poem says, “No man is an island.” No matter how strong we think we are, we need people in our lives to help us when the times are hard. And, believe me, times get hard.
Relationships are a literal lifeline when life is good and when life is bad. I’m not just talking about people to hang out with on Saturday night. I’m talking about the “real deal” people that know your junk (cause we all have junk) and love you anyways.
Do you have someone to talk to when the rug gets pulled out from beneath you? Do you have someone that will point you back to the grace of God when you are having a hard time seeing His goodness? These types of relationships are vital to a healthy, vibrant soul. Whose house can you stop by uninvited for an impromptu dinner? And whose phone number is memorized because she is the first person you call for prayer? If no names come to mind, then today is the day to make new friends or reach out to some old ones. God created us to exist in the context of community.
Now, I realize that we are not all runners. Many of us cannot run because of health issues or physical limitations. But the word “run” is important to the subject of soul care, because the focus is movement. Are you moving or just staying still? Do you have a goal to keep you on the healthy track or do you just coast through each day with your feelings as your guide? Our feelings can make us feel stuck and therefore prevent us from moving our feet. But our feet are meant to go somewhere. Moving our bodies is essential to overall health.
Running is an activity that boosts our mood and relieves our stress. It is a fantastic exercise to get our blood pumping and our body moving. But, if we are really focusing on soul care, I would say that this word could be replaced with any word that motivates you to get active. So, if you hate running, that’s ok! Just do the type of exercise that you enjoy. Zumba, kickboxing, walking, swimming and pilates are all other fun ways to get up and work out.
Why does this matter to our soul’s happiness? Because we feel better when we exercise. And when we feel better we perform at a higher level, are a little bit nicer to those in our world, and take more care of ourselves. Oh, and the healthier we are, the more capable we are of running the race that God has called us to with fervor and passion.
Let me end this soul care therapy session with one last piece of advice. The Bible talks about our body being “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) Since this is the truth, we get this great privilege to take care of ourselves. When our soul is fed through adequate rest, loving relationships, and consistent exercise, we are honoring God. And that, to me, is all that matters.