This list is meant to be a help to you. If at any point you feel overwhelmed by the changes you are trying to make either from an article in this series or this list (or any change you are trying to make in your life), please take a time-out to get your footing again. After the first visit to my naturopath, I made a giant spreadsheet of all the things I had to get done in one day. The list was 25 points long! Each point was good and helpful, but I was overwhelming myself with a giant to-do list. When I went back to the naturopath and I showed her the list (I really thought she’d be impressed with me), she told me to put it away and scale down. I was embarrassed but trusted that she knew what was best. I was trying to do too much (again!), which is exactly what got my body so messed up. Healing should be like sitting in a lazy river, not swimming across the English Channel.
Just a small reminder that no one is perfect—certainly not me. I will do well for several days and then have a day where everything feels really hard and I mess up. It’s important to give Jesus’s grace to ourselves. Know that He is with you in this and will help you. Lean into His strength and don’t strive. Let this be easy.
Here are some suggestions for ways to take care of yourself:
Take a meditation/detox bath.
Run a hot bath. Add Epsom Salts and Bentonite Clay (I will use 1 to 1.5 cups of Epsom Salts and around 5 tablespoons of clay). Let it settle for about 3 to 5 minutes. Use a non-metal whisk to whisk the water and help the clay mix in. Turn on some soothing music or worship music. Get in and practice letting your mind be at ease. Focus on the words or on your breathing. This helps your body and mind calm down. To learn more about bentonite clay, click here.
Talk a walk with Jesus. Disconnect and unwind in nature.
You can take a stroll around your neighborhood or find a local park that has some trails. Make sure you don’t feel rushed. Set aside a good three hours or so in order for you to properly feel disconnected. Get rid of all technology and take in the nature around you. Remind yourself that God created all that you see out of thin air with just His words. Let yourself think on His greatness. Try to see things with childlike wonder.
Pick one food or drink that is not healthy and take a month to slowly wean it out of your life.
Not much instruction to go along with this. Start with something small if you are easily overwhelmed. Everything starts with just one step. The more steps you make, the stronger you’ll get. You’ll be amazed at where you are a year from now!
Switch to better products.
The next time you buy shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or any hygiene product, check it on https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/, a database of over 73,000 products and their rankings. On a scale of 1 to 10, you can see how toxic they are.
Again, don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to go throw away everything in your bathroom. Just start with the next thing you buy. Eventually, you’ll replace every product you use in your home, and you can choose to replace them with healthier, safer options!
Schedule a couple hours in the next month to get away from everything and be with the Lord.
Spending time with the Lord is important every day, but it’s good to schedule extended time with Him. Start with just a few hours. Pretty soon, you’ll want an entire day! You can paint or draw with Him. You can simply worship Him for a few hours. You can garden with Him or go bungee jumping, rock climbing, or kayaking. It’s really up to you. Make spending time with Him a priority.
Set a bedtime goal, and push for it. The more sleep you get, the more time your body has to repair and detox, and the better you will feel!
Sleep can often be challenging for a lot of people, me included. I’ve noticed that if you set a schedule for when to sleep and when to get up, your body begins to learn your rhythm and your sleep is improved. Check out this great article by the National Sleep Foundation on circadian rhythms.
Develop a rhythm for your days.
This one is hard, but when I’m in a routine, I feel accomplished and steady–ready for the day.
I know there are many of us who have a difficult time with mornings. We often call ourselves “night owls” or we’re just “not morning people.” Getting a morning routine down for us is pretty difficult, but I’ve noticed that if I get enough sleep (which requires going to bed at, like, 10 for me), helps me get up in the morning. I have to pray for help from the Lord, often. It’s a daily struggle.
Just this morning, I didn’t get up when I should, and I caused my whole day to start from a haggard and rushed place. I was reacting to everything rather than being in control. It makes for a miserable morning and sets a frazzled and chaotic pace for the day.
Often, the push I need to get out of the bed is remembering what amazing days I have if I get up early and take charge of the day. Once you have a few of those under your belt, you’ll start feeling empowered rather than pushed around by your day.
Set a time to get up, with time for sipping coffee, talking to Jesus, making breakfast, showering, and getting ready. Give yourself time to enjoy the morning. Also, sit down and schedule out your week. Not every minute, but large chunks of time are good.
For example, this is my current weekly routine (that I sincerely try follow):
Sundays–church and family time.
Mondays–morning playdate and working in the afternoon. Dinner and free time.
Tuesdays–gym, working, dinner, free time.
Wednesdays–violin lesson, working, dinner, free time.
Thursdays–gym, working, dinner, free time.
Saturdays–open for cleaning, special events, or relaxing.
In my evening free times (after my son is in bed) I rotate between hanging out with friends, playing games with my husband, painting, drawing, reading, writing, meditating, or detoxing.
These rhythms are pretty loose. I don’t want to add stress to my life by feeling like I have to do my schedule. The routine can adapt and change as life changes. Remember, you made the schedule, and you can deviate from it whenever you need to.
Schedule time for the things you love.
Set a few hours aside each week to work on an instrument you are learning, drawing, painting, coloring, baseball, basketball, golf, sewing, dancing, gardening, woodworking, any hobby that really gets you away from electronics and has you using your mind and your hands. I use my evening free time slots for this.
Pick a recipe you’ve never done before and set an evening aside to learn how to cook it. Sit down to eat, and savor the food. Learn to respect the tastes, and value the food you made.
Get a water bottle that you enjoy, and keep it with you as much as possible. This encourages you to drink more water, which helps all our bodily systems function better.
Schedule in time for friends and family.
Put energy into your family and into the friends that bring life to you. If you need to make a list of the people in your life that you value, then draw a bullseye. The innermost ring is a space where your closest friends and family should be listed. They are people you speak to every day or almost every day. The next ring out are people you value, those you try to talk to or spend time with weekly. The next ring are people that you spend time with monthly. You have to figure out how many people you can adequately manage in each category.
Find a new book that peaks your interest and begin reading. It’s always good to disconnect in an engaging story.
Have time away from all media.
This could be an afternoon, an entire day, or a few weeks or months. Learn to reconnect with people and life without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or other social media platforms. This helps to remind us how important connecting with people personally can be.
Make it a priority to get outside.
Feel the breeze. See the sunshine. Hear the birds. Let God’s creation help you feel peaceful and connected to Him. Even if it’s just for the short walk to the mailbox, take the time to notice what you see on your way there and back. Awareness of our surroundings is a bit of a lost art. Try to pay attention to the beauty in everyday happenings.
Cut something out.
If you feel overwhelmed, learn to say no. If your schedule seems too full, then drop the least important thing. A well-balanced life is better than a full calendar. If you have a difficult time saying no to people, I highly recommend reading Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. It’s a great book!
Mindfulness may seem like a strange word, but it’s pretty much the practice of paying attention. Don’t judge how you feel or what you are thinking, but just see what’s around. It’s a time to intentionally stop thinking. It’s just like working out a muscle. The more you practice something, the easier it is to do. Practicing mindfulness helps our minds stop wandering. It increases our focus and helps us think more clearly.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
These foods are packed with nutrients that will make your body feel healthier and you feel happier. We don’t often think of malnutrition playing a part in our moods, but it’s a large culprit. Eat foods that will bring life and joy to you through their nutritional value.
Declutter a part of your home that has been bothering you.
This will help relieve the mental burden of knowing it’s “just sitting there waiting.” It will also help you feel accomplished, as well as create a visually more appealing environment. I can always think more clearly when things are in order.
Touch is a powerful tool and will often lift moods and help people feel valued and loved. Give a hug, receive a hug, whatever is appropriate for your life. Just know that touching can often be a powerful way to feel appreciated. Of course, it goes without saying that we should stay within proper boundaries and respect those around us.
It’s a good idea to start putting activities in our days that bring a sense of peace and restfulness. It doesn’t have to be every day or take up a lot of time, but there should be activities in your life that help you de-stress and unwind. If nothing on this lists suits your fancy, then here are some basic guidelines for picking restful things:
- Does the activity involve meeting a deadline or obligation? If so, then it won’t bring you rest.
- Do you have to concentrate or use a good bit of brain power? Not restful.
- The task that you’ve chosen, does it make you feel rushed or hurried in any way? Does the thought of the task bring stress just by thinking about it? If so, then nope. Not restful.
- Does it bring you energy? Does it restore what’s been depleted? Will it help you feel energized for the long run? If not, then it’s not restful.
Restful activities bring energy to the body because energy isn’t being exerted. Keep in mind that overscheduling even fun and restful activities can make your life feel overwhelming and contribute to a stressed-out life.
I hope this list gives you some ideas of ways to help bring balance and peace to your life. I’d love to hear how this journey is going for you! I welcome your stories and comments below.
Featured Image by Austin Neill