You can’t always control the circumstances that life throws your way, but you can control how well you take care of yourself through it all. This year, and many years gone by, people have allowed themselves to be destroyed by the circumstances of life. And in too many cases, people have taken the life of someone else because of the pressure, or have taken their own life. As you think ahead to the new year, think about yourself. I am not suggesting adopting an attitude of selfishness and pride, but taking proper care of your body, soul and mind will keep you in good shape for handing the challenges of your walk through your God-given purpose and plan.
One year ago, I decided that I was going to be better to myself and do more of the things I wanted to do. Not to spite or neglect anyone, but to take care of myself. One of my biggest goals was to take a vacation for one week, alone. It is something I had never done before and never thought about doing before, but I set, and met, that goal. That vacation did a world of good for my mind, and my spirit. Everything I do in business and ministry requires me to be in constant contact with others, but even those who have been consistently prosperous know, that “Me time” is necessary.
In the year 2010, I want to encourage you to take care of all that concerns you, as you have always done, but also remember to take care for you! Here are some ways to make sure you get the most out of 2010, and by doing what you can do, God will do the rest.
Step 1- Get Good Rest
Sleep is very important for your emotional and physical wellbeing. As someone who struggles with getting (or not getting) effective sleep, I know first-hand that a lack of sleep will eventually and negatively impact your ability to handle the pressures of life. You will be less productive in the things you attempt to do. You work life, family life, and personal life will suffer for not getting good rest. For those of you who are workaholics, it just is not worth it. Working more or longer, does not necessarily mean you are doing better work. Take time out of every day to just stop and rest, and then go to bed when your body indicates it’s time to power-down!
Step 2 -Eat Better
Goodness, in America, we have some of the most unhealthy, overweight, unproductive people; all because we are not taking care of ourselves by means of a proper diet. By regularly putting too much of the wrong thing in your body, you are setting yourself up to be more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and depression. It is not impossible to incorporate good eating habits into your day. I understand that we work like crazy people in this country because too many are propelled by power and greed, but you can still eat well. Fast food is not healthy food. Go back to step one. Stop long enough to do well for yourself. Go to the store or the Farmer’s Market and buy fresh produce to make your own meals. You will feel good doing it, and will feel better in the long run.
Step 3 – Move more
I do not mean relocate. I mean, get up out of your chair, off the couch, out of bed and get some exercise. A brisk 30-minute walk every day is an amazing mood booster. A co-worker and I walk everyday for 30-40 minutes. We find that we are more alert, more productive, and more pleasant to be around when are bodies are energized and taken care of. We often use those times to relieve ourselves of any work or emotional frustrations. I have a work-out program that I follow at home. It is a 10-minute a day program. That is it! Just 10 minutes. We all have enough time in our day to exercise, the problem is, most of us are choosing to do nothing, or are doing more of the unhealthy things. Get up and out more in 2010!
Step 4- Remember who your friends are
Having a social life is vital. Having a secure circle of friends will keep you happier, and can encourage you to create better habits for yourself. I am truly blessed by all of the friends in my life. They do not all follow strict rules for taking care of themselves, but if I ask them to support me in my efforts to do better, they do not hesitate. They speak words of life and encouragement when I am down, and remind me to get out and have fun. I prefer to do a lot of things alone,
Step 5 – Get a life
Seriously, do something, anything that is fun for you. If that is carving, carve! If it is baking- bake! If you need someone to eat it, stop by! Draw, paint, take up photography… it doesn’t matter, get out and live life! Hobbies provide distractions from things that would normally bring you down.
Remember the vacation I spoke of earlier? That was my way of pampering myself. Taking good care of our bodies inside is necessary. Taking care of our mental health is critical. But, taking care of yourself inside is an amazing inside healer. Get a massage, go to the beach and read, or lay under a tree and just daydream. You will not be able to adequately do for others, if you have not first taken care of yourself.
Step 7- Express yourself
The mental health care industry in the United States is a booming business. Why? Because people do not know how to properly handle their emotions. People with years of bottled emotions are exploding and causing damage everywhere we look. Remember Step 4; if you are having a bad day, tell someone. If you are angry about something or at someone, find an appropriate time, place, and manner to express that. Timing is everything. Keeping your emotions bottled up is prolonging disaster. If you are not sure who to confide in, write it down and throw away the paper. I have found that journaling helps me process my feelings and find appropriate, potential solutions to when I have written about. As a writer, and author, believe me when I say that writing is a great stress reliever; and less stress means a happier, healthier life.
Step 8- Embrace your faith
Many years and tax dollars have been spent researching the impact of faith and religion in people’s lives. I have been a Christian since I was a teenager and looking back, I can recall many times when God showed up in my life when I could not carry on alone. I am less stressed knowing that I do not have to carry every burden or have all the answers. I am here because of the love and grace of someone much bigger than I. This body of mine, is not mine, it is God’s. He wants to use me to bless others and further his kingdom. It is my responsibility to take care of myself for God’s glory.
Remember to pray expecting answers. Prayer works. Time and time again we see the sick being healed when doctors said it couldn’t happen. But, prayer warriors interceded and God stepped in and took over. Never underestimate the power of prayer, faith, and trust in God.
If you didn’t think you would make it to December 31, 2009, here you are! You made it, if only by the grace of God. I pray God’s blessings upon you today, and every day in 2010.
You are loved, cherished, and blessed to be a blessing. Be it unto you according to your faith!