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In today’s busy world, fulfilling multiple roles and serving those we love often drowns us in responsibility. The demands of being a spouse, parent, and family member already consume our attention before we find time for a full or part-time career. And then, we have other life responsibilities including being a good neighbor, active church member, volunteer, and more. So how do we keep our sanity while fulfilling all of these demanding roles?

A first step is accepting that we are not super-human. We cannot accomplish all of these areas completely all the time. If we give our career all of the energy we have available, our family will get short-changed. If we give and do all that is possible for our families, we will not be able to give our full energy to a career. We can’t “do it all," so there's no call to feel guilty. Instead, we can allow ourselves to choose our priorities and then balance them in a way that is best for us. That will be different for each individual.

Some people still try to have a demanding career while also doing all the things they believe would be expected of a stay-at-home parent. It would be wonderful if we could pack it all neatly in our schedules, as if simple organization was the key. But really, we construct an impossible fantasy of what we imagine the perfect life would be, and guarantee our own frustration. This is a recipe for “burn-out,” and when we are “burnt-out” we don’t do any of the above well. If we aren’t caring for ourselves, we have nothing left to give to others.

When that is the case, we need to find the right balance of our truly important obligations with enough self-care to keep us healthy.

So what is Self-Care?

  • Self-Care is the ability to recognize one’s need and responsibility to take care of his or her own emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health.
  • Self-Care comes in different forms and is unique to everyone, but ultimately can restore, refresh, and strengthen.
  • Self-Care is a discipline that must be practiced.
  • Self-Care indirectly cares for others because the time and energy serving will come from fullness not emptiness.
  • Self-Care is NOT selfish or self-serving; it is showing yourself the grace and compassion that God has shown you.

It is easy to get consumed with schedules, routines, and activities, which are good, but not at the cost of anxiety, guilt, depression, and broken relationships, which are all likely outcomes of loose boundaries and poor self-care. God does not want us to be overburdened. He says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

There are a variety of ways we accomplish self-care, and some suggestions are listed below. What works for one person, might not work for another. The point is to find what helps you take care of your overall health and well-being.

Ways to Accomplish Self-Care:

  • Leave negative emotions at work and do not take them home (and vice versa).
  • Learn to say “no” to non-essentials (and probably lower your standard of what is actually essential).
  • Take a break from demanding tasks.
  • Seek peace, solitude, and rest each day.
  • Spend time in prayer and reflecting on God's word.
  • Find a way to re-energize, seek solace, or unwind.
  • Nurture your valued relationships and be intentional with your time.
  • Make date nights with your spouse a priority.
  • Call a friend.
  • Have one-on-one time with a child.
  • Set and keep limits on work hours.
  • Set and keep limits on extended family.
  • Set and keep limits on extra-curricular commitments.
  • Set boundaries that can be flexible if needed.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities as a working mother, father, or caregiver, or feeling anxious or stressed, then I encourage you to talk to someone about it. You are not alone! Take that first step in seeking the support you need to learn how to care for yourself.

This article was adapted from one originally published in New Leaf Resources’ Fall 2014 Newsletter.

 

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