Happy Friday, friends.
Can I just have a moment to talk about the past few weeks, please? If yours have been anything like mine, you are probably counting the days to your next vacation, aka: too many days left. NEWS FLASH: Summer is, like, a full on 3 months away (everybody say “ugh.”). That being said, how about we do a little “check-in” with ourselves real quick, yeah?
Every once in a while life just gets going a little too fast & before we know it our minds are running too hard, our bodies not hard enough, our relationships are barely making it. If it's gotten really bad, we’ve lost sight of who we are & what we’re about. Oh my gosh, what a total disaster. My goal today is to help you take a step back & refocus.
To hit the reset button, if you will.
Part of my 9 to 5 consists of coordinating counseling sessions & communicating with fragile people who have found themselves right in the midst & in the thick of an overwhelming situation. It's not my dream job (totally not the point; more on that later), but I can’t tell you how many little gold speckles of information & “self care” tips I’ve learned along the way. Lucky for you, I’m feeling generous & I’m about to drop some free, SUPER practical knowledge on you right now.
Got your pen ready?
Because we’re about to go IN.
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 & 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!
*Side note: I’ve added a few short “side notes” prefaced with “Alexa | Joy” next to the lines I want to emphasize. You can join me in the conversation or keep on rollin’ by (I promise I won’t be offended if you choose the latter).
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, its 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 & emotional well-being. So put that phone down at night & 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 & 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 & allowed His presence to be the strongest influence in my life & the weeks that I’m just blindly rushing through. Even my face looks different—kind of sad & un-amused, aka: really not cute. So, freakin’ read the Message version of the Bible if you have to or listen to a podcast to get your focus straight---soak your mind & 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 & she was telling me how she had never heard God speak to her personally---never. And my guess is that there are a lot of others (maybe you) that have not ever experienced that either. Which is totally mind-blowing to me! So what did I do? I had her pray for us & walked her through it. All I had her do was say, “Jesus, what do you think about me?” & 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----> Genesis 1:27. She quoted scripture to me & 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. & 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 & truth received from people we trust & love. I have a couple people that consistently speak straight truth into my life & 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, & 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 & 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” & come back & 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 crappy moments. It's okay to get those things out---there’s nothing noble about holding it all in. However (& 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 & re-evaluate your priorities. Maybe choose one or two items that you’re not doing well & 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.
Seasons change & life gets crazy, but we have to keep ourselves grounded & fueled in the right ways. There’s a lot of life to live & there are a lot of great things ahead of us. I want to make sure we all get there with both eyes open, all limbs still attached, & our minds more found than they ever were lost.
So, make time for your heart, mind, & soul today. Walk into this day with anticipation &, most importantly, don’t forget how incredibly loved & valuable you are.
Alexa | Joy