The to-do list continues to grow, another deadline is added, the pile of laundry multiplies, you commit to another volunteer activity, and just when you feel like you are coming up for air, something else comes your way and you feel like you are drowning in a sea of deadlines, meetings and tasks. Is this a familiar picture?
We live in such a fast-paced world and I often feel like I am running around just trying to catch up on life. There are just so many competing priorities, and with such busy lifestyles, it is so hard for us to take time to take care of ourselves.
According to the American Psychological Association, extreme amounts of stress can affect our health and lead to medical conditions that can affect our immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.
As I reflect on 2018, my biggest takeaway is that I just cannot be everywhere and cannot do it all. Therefore, in order to love and serve others, I need to take care of my overall health first! And let me tell you, that is a hard task to accomplish.
When the cluttered desk, messy house, and laundry are calling my name, I struggle with setting aside time to ensure that my spirit, soul, and mind are healthy before I tackle the to-do list.
Mark 12:31 says:
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
We understand that we are supposed to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but what happens when we are unable to love ourselves first?
In an effort to balance a career, ministry, and family, I often forget to make sure I am fully healthy. For example, exercising is often thrown to the bottom of my list because I just don’t have time for it when I am trying to meet deadlines.
Recently, during a ministry development class I am taking, I realized that I had put my health as my last priority. The title of the session was “The Art of Self Leadership”, and its central theme was how effective leaders should focus on what cannot be seen.
The speaker said,
“It is what is below the surface that will sink your ship; if you do not take care of your overall health, you cannot effectively serve others.”
The concept was truly life changing! I realized that if I do not live a balanced lifestyle by putting my health first, I run the risk of no longer being able to fulfill the rest of the tasks in my life.
So this year, I want to encourage you to take care of yourself first BEFORE you try to be productive! Here are three things that are key for us to include into our daily routine and that should become a priority:
- Prayer- Spending time with God should be number one on our list! He is our source of strength, and in order to give to others, we must first receive from Him.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV)
This verse is a clear reminder that we cannot be fruitful if we do not remain in Him.
Make it a habit to spend time with Him every morning. Our time with Him should be our number one priority. Just as our cell phones need to be charged consistently, we also need our batteries recharged, and the best way to do this is by talking to our Heavenly Father.
- Exercise- Physical activity helps increase the production of feel-good endorphins in our body, and it is also a great way to manage stress. Let’s make it a point to increase our physical activity. Whether it is an hour at the gym, a fun Pilates class, or a simple, yet energizing walk, do not allow the busyness of our everyday lives to put exercising on the bottom of our list.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says,
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
So let’s take care of our temple so that we can serve others!
- Connection- As humans, we were designed to have relationships and connections with one another. Surrounding ourselves with a network of people who listen to us, encourage us, and help us see the things in our life that perhaps we are unable to see, is essential and will help us be emotionally healthy.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Ensure that you build a strong network of friends with whom you can regularly meet with, friends who you know will positively influence your life!
Let’s commit to take care of ourselves so that we can ensure we are spiritually, physically, and emotionally healthy. Not until we take care of ourselves will we have the energy and ability to impact the world around us.
Featured photo by: Allison Mims