It takes courage to slow down. To say, “I need a break.” Our world encourages burn out. Give. Give. Give. Nowhere do I see this more than with people in the helping professions. Pastors. Priests. Social workers. Counselors. Chaplains. Because, you see, there is a never ending supply of people who need help.
Parents are also notorious for running themselves ragged with the self-invalidating stance of “my kids need me.” You hear it from the exhausted mother who sews a button on the child’s performance costume minutes before the school program. Or from the dad who runs out at 9:30 p.m. after a full day’s work to get the book his teen just now said she needs for homework (even though she’s known it for weeks.) We can’t say no. We don’t say no even when we’re dead dog tired, and our insides are screaming, GRRRRRRR.
Then we get up the next morning, slosh down a cup of coffee, grab a bagel or maybe smoke a cigarette and head out the door before we’re even awake, because someone needs us. We encourage others to take care of themselves while we border on the unethical (or at least hypocritical), as we let the stress pile on. When does it stop? How do we break the cycle?
Scripture admonishes us to “Love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.” How warped have we made those beautiful words? We either forget ourselves all together and press through with a smile and a latte; or we love others just as we love ourselves – not very well. And God? Who has time?
Caring for one’s self is hard, hard work. Does any tiny bit of this resonate with you? How’s your pulse today? Relaxed? On the verge of burnout? Exhausted? Terrified? Excited? All of the above? If you’re one of the few who feels calm and practices self-care, tell us: Where do you find respite?
How do you respond when I say to you, “Take care of yourself. Your life depends on it”? Imagine this… in order to continue with the work you love, you have to stop now. You can’t see another client or respond to your child or answer an e-mail or text. You’ve got to throw away your computer and lock the doors to your office (or personal space). You have one hour to find solace. No, wait, that’s too much time. 10 minutes.
So could you do it? Could you implement a self-care strategy within that time frame? I offer you this challenge…. You have 10 minutes to pull yourself back in from the ledge, what do you do? Go ahead, make the list. Then pick one item and do it! ☺
Here’s the short list that popped into my mind:
- 10 minutes with my cat
- 3 pages of uncensored journaling
- Listen to two or three of my favorite songs
- 5 deep breathes, a couple of full stretches & the rest of the time in child’s pose
- A walk around the block – brisk or slow, as needed