Late last night after coming home from the Ranger game, I read a short article in a magazine about a new drug (Provigil) that may promise more energy while you actually get less sleep. I finished the article and thought, “This is great–just what some of us need to hear. A way to sleep less and work more.” (I hope you hear my sarcasm).
I really think that what more of us need is to put a priority on doing what brings about personal refreshment. Too many of us seem to have a lifestyle where we ignore body, mind, soul, emotions and then begin to bear the consequences. I can look back and see a number of periods in my life where I have ignored “self-care” only to have it catch up with me. There are a few things that have been helpful to me in staying alive and fresh.
1. I once heard Gordon MacDonald observe that our waking hours can be divided into three segments (morning, afternoon, and evening). He spoke of how important it is to think of the energy that we are going to be using in these segments and build into the calendar some balance. For instance, if I have a full, intense morning and afternoon, I need to plan my time for something less intense that evening. Or, if I know that the morning and evening are going to be stressful and busy, I need to think about doing something else in the afternoon. To every day, go at life full steam in all three segments is asking for a crash. I found that to be very helpful. So, I try to think about this in terms of how I plan my week. No, it doesn’t work out perfectly every day. I am conscious of it though and try to put some balance into my week. Because of this, I realize just how important my day off really is.
2. Very important to my ongoing refreshment is a daily time to get the center right. Five days a week, early in the morning before everyone else in our house awakens, I read Scripture, part of a book to help prepare my mind, journal and pray. I might read something from Henri Nouwen (The Way of the Heart is a good place to start). Another good work is Jerry Bridges’ I Exalt You O God. I will often start with a book like this to “warm up” my heart. I will then move to Scripture. In the last year, I have read through the Gospel of John, the Psalms, and Isaiah. I am presently reading through the Sermon on the Mount. As I read I highlight words, phrases which really speak to me. (More about journaling in another post)
3. I try to pay attention to my body. I work out about 4-5 days a week. Does it ever help with the stress! You don’t have to work out at a gym. Find what is right for you. (Walk, swim, run, etc) Most of us just need to do something. While sometimes I feel too tired to work out, I also find that it gives me fresh energy. I also try to pay attention to what I eat. I’m not fanatical about it. I still enjoy a burger, Mexican food, and ice cream. But I do try to pay attention to what I eat over the period of a week and go after some sense of balance.
More of this in a later post…