Summer vacation is finally here! How glorious to welcome the days of lying at the beach, sleeping in and having not a care in the world. Right? Oh I’m not in college anymore? Ok, back to the office it is.
Let’s be real, don’t you think adults should get summer vacation too? (Shout out to all the teachers out there!) I mean, we work really hard too! And we have to pay our bills on time, clean the house, cook dinners, change diapers, and get our cars repaired... Can’t SDG&E just give us a little break for a few months?
Not all of us are fortunate enough to take a few months to regroup for some "r and r" over the summer, and the majority of us are unable to avoid those adult life responsibilities like bills and babies, but it is so important that we remember to take care of ourselves in the midst of our busy schedules!
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work …” (Exodus 20:8-10).
The Lord wants us to experience rest! He established the Sabbath as a practical way for us to remember to rest. In this digital age where we are constantly connected to our devices, social media, running around making sure the errands get done and the deadlines are met, it’s increasingly more difficult to disconnect and truly experience the kind of rest God wants for us. Writer and speaker, Lysa Terkeurst, put it very simply: “Where there is a lack of rest, there is an abundance of stress.” Yes, indeed!
I sat down with Alexa, one of the shining stars of our Care Counseling team here at Rock Church to discuss one really practical way that we can assess our current state of being and take a little “self-care inventory”.
Here is what she had to say:
Alexa Joy: Every once in a while life just gets going a little too fast and before we know it our minds are running too hard, our bodies not hard enough, our relationships are barely making it, and if it's gotten really bad, we’ve lost sight of who we are and what we’re about. Oh my gosh, what a total disaster. My goal today is to help you take a step back and refocus.
To hit the reset button, if you will.
Part of my 9 to 5 consists of coordinating counseling sessions and communicating with fragile people who have found themselves right in the midst and in the thick of an overwhelming situation. I can’t tell you how many little gold speckles of information and “self care” tips I’ve learned along the way. Lucky for you, I’m feeling generous and I’m about to drop some free, SUPER practical knowledge on you right now.
Self-Care Inventory – AKA: The “Am I really okay?” Test
The inventory is broken down into three sections. One by one, we are going to sift through the various parts of who we are and evaluate how well we are caring for each. For each line, rate how well you are doing with it based on the following scale:
1 = What? I have never thought of that before…I should probably give that a try
2 = Ain’t nobody got time for that…Never ever.
3 = It’s hit or miss---could probably do this more
4 = Sometimes, if I have/make time
5 = Everyday--Can’t get through the day without this!
Part 1 – “If we’re talkin’ body” – Your Physical Self
_______ Eat 3 healthy meals a day?
Alexa Joy: Not French fries. Not a California burrito. Not a bag of Swedish Fish (I’m guilty of this sometimes…oops). FYI - If it doesn’t have green leaves or more than two colors or ingredients you can pronounce, it’s not “healthy”.
_______ Exercise or do activities that raised my heart rate 3 or more times a week?
_______ Consume caffeine, sweets, and energy drinks less than usual?
Alexa Joy: Okay, I’m the first to say I love my coffee, but during high stress times I have to be careful not to replace a good meal with a latte. I do it often. Caffeine will increase our stress if it isn’t balanced with H2O + actual food. Conclusion: Obviously, keep your coffee—just don’t skip the salad.
_______ Attend a medical, dental, and vision appointments as needed?
_______ Take regular breaks and get adequate hours of sleep 5 out of 7 days/nights a week?
Alexa Joy: Sleep! I can’t say this enough. Sometimes I feel like I swapped my teenage years with my twenties because I swear I sleep more now than I ever have before in my life. Seriously, I promise you, I haven’t felt better. Sleep is so vital for your body---which ultimately leads to your brain and emotional well-being. So put that phone down at night and shut those eyes, pretty thang.
_______ Schedule time away from work and ministry or time with your family?
Alexa Joy: I am a people person---too much time in the office, behind a computer screen, or away from the signs of human-life and I just about lose my mind. We have to make time to connect with others. It’s just as important as drinking water---no joke.
_______ Take healthy snacks and healthy liquids into the office?
Part 2 – “Work, work, work, work, work” - Your Spiritual + Psychological Self
_______ Find nourishment from God (Bible reading, meditation, and prayer) 5 out of 7 days a week?
Alexa Joy: For real, for real (yes, I said that twice---that's how much I mean this)---this cannot be emphasized enough! I don’t even care how you do this, it just needs to be done. I can always see a drastic difference between the weeks I have truly spent time with Jesus and allowed His presence to be the strongest influence in my life and the weeks that I’m just blindly rushing through. Even my face looks different—kind of sad and un-amused, aka: really not cute. So, read the Message version of the Bible if you have to or listen to a podcast to get your focus straight---soak your mind and spirit in truth. Just. Do. It.
_______ Take time for reflection and quiet retreat(s). (Can include outdoor activity if that’s how you refuel)?
_______ Read spiritual and ministry skill materials?
Alexa Joy: Just because you aren’t working in full-time ministry doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from reading material that has a lot of substance related to “ministry”. In fact, you might benefit from it even more. I’ve never been a fictional genre reader; I’ve always been drawn more towards books that I feel like I can apply to my life in one way or another, so this comes naturally to me. Recommendations: Fervent; The Pursuit of God; Visioneering (my current read---SO good).
_______ Daily, meaningful conversation with people that understand me and I can trust?
_______ Ask God to help me discover something about Him and myself?
Alexa Joy: Basically, are you talking to God? Are you hearing Him talk back? I had a conversation with a student in our youth ministry the other night and she was telling me how she had never heard God speak to her personally. And my guess is that there are a lot of others (maybe you) that have not ever experienced that either. So what did I do? I had her pray for us and walked her through it. All I had her do was say, “Jesus, what do you think about me?” and had her listen. In seconds she said, “God told me I have a big heart like He does---that I’m like Him. And that’s a good thing.” What?! This girl just heard God tell her that she was made to be like Him as in Genesis 1:27. She quoted scripture to me and didn’t even know it. Now she knows that she can access Him anytime, with or without me. You can too. It's that simple, y’all and it’s the most life-giving thing, ever.
_______ Use spiritual discipline(s) by myself or with others several times a week?
_______ Confess, repent, and seek God’s ability to find victory over (fill in the blank)…?
Part 3 – “Feeling All the Feels” – Your Emotional Self
_______ Laugh with someone in the office and at home on a daily basis?
_______ Spend time in person, on phone and/or e-mail with family and friends I enjoy?
Alexa Joy: Some of our most successful days (think internally, not necessarily externally or circumstantially) will be marked by the encouragement and truth received from people we trust and love. I have a couple people that consistently speak straight truth into my life and I cannot say I have ever left a conversation with any of them feeling more discouraged than I did before. You need those kind of people---the kind that will speak your language, relate, and call greatness right out of you.
_______ Take a moment to make a list of things your thankful for and something your proud of?
Alexa Joy: Okay, I know the thick fog of “cliché” that’s attached to this one might make some of you nauseous, but it’s a game changer. Gratitude is directly linked to joy and joy is directly linked to overall health. Just look it up---it's basically common knowledge these days. So, start that list. I dare you to read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and come back and tell me you have nothing to be thankful for. She takes the cake for finding the smallest things as blessings.
_______ Express some painful feelings to someone who cares about my life and family?
Alexa Joy: Sometimes we just need to word vomit our not-so-awesome moments. It's okay to get those things out---there’s nothing noble about holding it all in. However (and that’s a HUGE however), the trick is knowing when to stop. Proverbs 29:11 NLT, “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” Don’t be a venting fool; no one likes Negative Nancy.
_______ Let go/surrender some negative feelings and thoughts to God?
Alexa Joy: A follow up to the previous line----knowing when to let it go. Holding on to negative feelings is just asking for bitterness to make a home in your heart. Just release it---seriously.
_______ Set limits with people who emotionally drain me?
Alexa Joy: Not sure much has to be said about this one, so I’ll just leave this right here.
_______ Spend time to enjoy myself, celebrate, etc….?
Phew! You’re almost done.
Now add up your ratings for your final score. The higher your score the more likely it is that you are taking care of yourself well. If you find that you have a lot of 1s, 2s, or 3s, it’s probably time to take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities. Maybe choose one or two items that you’re not doing well and start implementing them into your life. Make space in your schedule to do what you need to do. Your world will be better for it.
To read more from Alexa, visit her blog at alexajoybrand.com!