How are you doing, really?
When is the last time you’ve honestly answered that question?
Are you busy? So busy taking care of everything and everyone else that you haven’t taken care of … yourself?
Just think about all the things you do for others.
At work, you help others. You answer questions, solve problems, balance projects, coordinate schedules and maintain an ever-increasing to-do list.
And then there’s your extended family, friends and community. You check in on your aging parents (and worry you don’t help them enough). You keep up with birthdays and anniversaries. You serve at church, console a friend and help your neighbor.
It gets exhausting. And yet … what do you do for you? Exercise? Oh, yes … you’re always climbing over laundry, skipping lunch, running late and jogging your memory while checking off items on your to-do list!
Isn’t it time for a break? You stay so busy keeping up with everyone else’s needs that there’s no time for your own upkeep.
How can you joyfully accomplish your tasks if you’re always exhausted? Without proper rest and relaxation, stress levels become elevated. Depression can set in. Fatigue can make you feel aggravated or defeated. The mind and the body need a break from the weight of your day-to-day responsibilities.
There’s only one you, and you cannot pass on to others what you don’t possess yourself. To pass on peace, joy and courage to others, you yourself must be peaceful, joyful and courageous. Taking time to enjoy the things you love is like giving yourself a gift. It’s called soul care.
The following plan can help you begin taking care of your own soul.
- First, create a list of 30-50 things you enjoy doing.
To get started, here are some examples:
- Go to a movie.
- Go fishing.
- Leisurely read the daily newspaper.
- Watch a game on TV.
- Have a guy’s (or girl’s) night out.
- Buy fresh-cut flowers at the local market.
- Work a crossword puzzle.
- Check out the events in your local cultural district.
- Play golf with your buddies.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Treat yourself to a pedicure.
- Go hiking.
- Visit local antique shops.
- Go camping.
- Walk through the neighborhood.
- Get a massage.
- Take a grown son or daughter out to eat.
- Visit the local bookstore just to browse.
- Treat yourself to an ice cream sundae.
- Build something you like.
- Play your guitar or piano.
- Write a poem.
- Make something crafty.
- Plant flowers or an herb garden.
- Go to a painting class.
- Learn a new skill.
- Play tennis.
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Call an old friend.
- Reread your favorite book.
- Write a letter.
- Watch the sunset.
- Go through the stack of magazines you’ve accumulated.
- Attend your alma mater’s home games.
- Next, rate each item on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the absolute most enjoyable activity.
- Lastly, do some of your activities each day with the goal of reaching 30 points a day. This can be a challenge for many, but give it a try for a couple of weeks. Don’t worry if you don’t reach 30 points right away. Keep at it. Remember, this is about nurturing your own soul.
If you’re like most people, you really don’t take much time for yourself. You’re taking care of everyone else and haven’t thought to put yourself on the list. It’s honorable to serve others – you shouldn’t ignore your responsibilities. But you must take care of yourself as well. It’s not being selfish – it’s soul care.
“I pray that all may go well with you
and that you may be in good health,
as it goes well with your soul.”
(3 John 2 ESV)
Laura Lyn earned her Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree at the University of North Texas with a multidisciplinary concentration in Mediation, Special Education and certification in Rehabilitation Studies. She earned a Masters of Professional Counseling degree at Amberton University.