Burning Out? Try This

Recently, I began talking about this issue of self-care in our lives. But what usually happens when I talk about this issue is that we try to take on too much too quickly. We get all excited about changing our lives—not only for ourselves, but so that we can be life-giving people to others (that is key).

So here are a few important items to keep in mind regarding self-care:

  • Start small. Only begin working on one thing in each area, or a couple of things overall.
  • Don’t become legalistic about this; rather, find a rhythm that works in your life.
  • Experiment with different ways to care for yourself.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

So How Do I Begin?

My recommendation is that you take out a piece of paper and draw three vertical lines down it, therefore making four columns. Label the first column heart (relational/emotional); label the second column soul (spiritual); label the third column strength (physical); label the fourth column mind (mental).

Once you have those four columns, just write down one thing in each column that you want to begin experimenting with and practicing for the next month. Sometimes people will just focus on one thing for the month, like date nights with their spouse. Once they feel that is going well, then they begin the second column, while still doing the first column. Other people begin doing one thing in each column until it becomes a habit. They may stick with what they have—or change up the items—or they just build by adding other ones.

Remember the keys above … start small … don’t get legalistic about it, trying to do everything every day (I lift weights two to three days a week; I run two to three days a week; I have a date night once a week with my wife; I spend time with God each day) … so there is a rhythm to it rather than some task I worry about completing each day. And I practice, practice, practice.

Self-care does not come easy. It takes time. But why not start today? It will change your life and the lives of those around you.  

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Rhett Smith
I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (MDiv, MSMFT, LMFT-A) and pastor to youth and families. I write about the relationships between psychology, theology and technology.