We live in an uncertain and volatile world. On whatever day this post finds you, the news headlines and social media feeds are likely filled with events that are sad, terrifying, and hard to comprehend. We survived a global pandemic, and now wars have broken out, and divisions are deepening at home and around the world. It’s a lot to take on and take in. We can either let this dark cloud consume us, or we can find our way into the light of Christ, and in turn, the open arms and unlimited love of humanity at its finest.
Self-care is an essential part of this journey. If you’ve ever boarded a commercial airplane, you’re familiar with the safety message – in the event of an emergency, place your own oxygen mask on first before you assist others. The same goes with life – if you have loved ones in your care, be they children, elders, a partner, friends, extended family, or neighbors – you can’t take care of them, until you take care of yourself.
Self-care is the key to remaining recharged and revitalized, in body and soul, as you take on the challenges of the modern world. Self-care provides firm soil to remain grounded. These practices help keep your focus where it needs to be – on everything that’s going right in your life and the world around you, versus the few, often louder things that are not.
Here are five ways to take care of yourself throughout the ups and downs in the days, months, and years ahead.
1. Prioritize your Mental Health
In times of chaos, take time to breathe. Practice mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and find inner peace. You’d be surprised how much can be accomplished by scheduling pockets of peace throughout your hectic schedule. 5 minutes an hour for silence and breath work, 15 minutes for a walk in the morning and afternoon. Prioritizing the gym with as much importance as a big Zoom meeting. These little gestures of self-love add up – and you know what, you likely get more done and achieve greater results, than if you run yourself ragged.
Gymnast Simone Biles is one example of prioritizing mental health. When she wasn’t feeling 100%, she had the courage to walk away from a major competition and focus on self-care – and you know what? She regained her strength, will and vitality and roared back to become the most decorated gymnast of all time. Many young pop stars have done the same, canceling tours rather than succumbing to exhaustion and anxiety. We can learn a lot from them!
2. Connect with the Holy Spirit Within You
Seek spiritual guidance from within. Take time for prayer, meditation or reflection to connect with inner wisdom and strength. It’s not uncommon to think you need to beeline to a house of worship to connect with your higher power, but the power to do so is within you, wherever you are, anytime day or night.
Prayer can help you tune out the static and barrage of loud voices and opinions to help your brain truly process decisions that need to be made, and make enlightened choices based on the values and teachings of Christ.
Sadly, these days, many wolves cloak themselves in the sheepskin of Faith to manipulate people into tuning out their organic energies of love, compassion, forgiveness, collaboration, and calm, because the opposite energies of fear, anger, division, and conflict are easier to mold and manipulate. Don’t fall for it. Even on cloudy nights where you can’t see the North Star to guide you, listen to the beat of your heart and you’ll find your way.
3. Take a Digital Detox
Pause right now to look around your room, your house, and the places you visited today. How many screens did you encounter? Your phone, watch, computer, TV – even your Alexa – are drenching you in distraction, temptation, and information overload. Now add in all the screens you see about town trying to sell you something wherever you look.
Digital media was designed to be addictive – to drown you in dopamine hits one like, love, click, emoji, and sound effect at a time. It’s an easy rabbit hole to fall down – but thankfully, climbing back out is as easy as hitting the “airplane mode” button, powering off, or simply walking away for a bit.
When you disconnect your devices, you can reconnect with yourself. Hello self! How ya doing? You’ll be surprised to tune into what you actually think versus reacting to all the stimuli you find online. For those born before the digital era, let’s remember some of the good things about the way things used to be. For those raised on screens, take a ride with us for a moment. There was a time when we roamed our neighborhoods, took bike rides and walks, shopped and played sports, with no way for anyone to reach us unless they were in the same place. Imagine going to a restaurant, and once you peruse the menu, your full attention returns to the company you keep – or perhaps with some people watching thrown in for good measure.
How many times have you been in a conversation with someone, and your phone bleeps, and you stop immediately to read the text. What does that say to the person you’re with about their importance to you? That even a text message from your cell phone company is more important than they are! You can’t always turn off notifications – like when your kids need to reach you – but you’d be surprised how often you can.
Take a day and don’t watch the news. If your life was in jeopardy, you’d likely smell smoke or hear sirens. Others nearby will warn you to take cover. You’d be surprised how much more relaxed you might feel by the end of the day. Imagine how much safer you’ll feel being more tuned into your actual surroundings versus worrying about conflicts taking place on the other side of the planet. Even a 2-minute silent scroll of the headlines can be more calming than watching 2-hours of “breaking news” on TV.
Screen detox will strengthen your real life connections. Social media is an oxymoron. We feel connected by watching the lives of others play out on small screens, but we’re missing out on the magic of actual human interaction.
4. Engage in Acts of Kindness
Spread love in a world that needs it. Small acts like helping others or volunteering can bring joy to your heart and promote positivity. Remember the phrase, a rising tide lifts all boats. That’s as true for the sea of love as it is for the vast ocean. You’ll be surprised how much the act of giving snowballs into something greater. Small acts of kindness become larger and larger as you find meaning and purpose in your actions. Those on the receiving end of your light often share it with others. One person truly can change the world.
5. Seek Support and Talk it Out
On social media, people most often present themselves at their very best, but when the cameras are off, most are struggling with their own issues and insecurities. When you seek support, you’re not admitting you’re flawed, you’re admitting you’re human. We are a communal species. You’re not alone in the journey called life. Reach out to friends, family or a therapist. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can lighten your burden. Sometimes you just need an ear to bend; other days you may need honest advice, wisdom and guidance. Help is as much a gift to give as it is to receive.
In the movies, when the end credits roll, the story wraps up in a nice tidy bow. But life isn’t like that. Every day, we claim our victories while new challenges arise for us to take on. Self-Care is an endlessly renewable energy to empower us all as we take on the challenges of life.