Recently (as in last week), I wrapped up an incredibly busy season; perhaps my busiest yet. I had serious commitments every night of the week except Fridays and Saturdays and I had work every day except Sunday. I was busy – we all are.
The work I was doing was meaningful. It brought me great joy and I loved working hard and ending each day feeling accomplished, tired, and empty. However, as the months wore on, I found myself empty more – mornings were harder, people were harder, my brain and body felt slower.
Still, I managed to stay relatively healthy during this time – physically, mentally, and spiritually, which is probably a first. After several burnouts of varying degrees I think I’ve finally learned a little about myself, my body, and my life.
Here are a few of the ways I’ve stayed healthy this season and if you’re a chronic over-achiever or workaholic, maybe these can help you too.
- PRAY. When I was looking at my calendar back in August, the sheer volume of weekly commitments was overwhelming. I began praying then that God would give me the strength to handle my responsibilities well. This continued daily and hourly for the last several months.
- REST – I was diligent, dare I say vigilant, in getting to bed on time. For me, this was 10:30pm with a 5:30am wake up most mornings. I was at a point where even 30 minutes of variation in the amount of sleep I got would derail me. Sleep was also a reminder that I am not super-human and I am not in control.
- EXERCISE – As difficult as it was, I consistently worked out at least 4x per week this season. Yes, some weeks were only 3x and some were more, but my average was 4x per week. For me, hard exercise is a balm that soothes the rough spots in my personality, calms my fears, and generally keeps me happy. I not only need exercise, I need to know I have time to exercise.
- EAT – One of my early indicators of my mental health is my physical health. I don’t notice my emotions quickly and I feel stress physically. My body usually knows the state of my health before my mind so making sure I am well-fueled is essential. It’s easy for me to default to oatmeal, eggs, or fruit for dinner and while these aren’t bad, I definitely need more food than that. If anything, this is the one area this season where I did not excel. Lots of oatmeal, eggs, and avocados for me and not enough “real meals.”
- FRIENDS – As a high-energy achiever, I can easily neglect my friends in order to accomplish a task. However, my friends rejuvenate my spirit and give me life in a way crossing off a to-do list never will. Even when I was tired, I knew I needed to spend time with friends – previously, I would have stayed home and opted for sleep, but I’ve learned there’s nothing quite as rejuvenating as good wine and belly laughs.
- READ MY BIBLE – This could easily go hand-in-hand with prayer, but I think this needs it’s own category. Maintaining spiritual health and growth is essential (if not THE essential) to a healthy life. During this crazy season, I saw God provide for me in ways I could not have imagined and reading His Word reminded me each day that my story is just a small part of a much bigger story. When things were tough and I was tired and surviving the next 24 hours was daunting, remembering that there is a God who is in control and who sustains the universe (and me!) was critical to maintaining my sanity and perspective.
- SHARE MY FEELINGS – We already know that I’m not so good at the feelings, emotions, and sharing weakness thing so this step is not natural to me. BUT, I found it incredibly liberating to be honest when people asked how I was doing. The typical “I’m good, busy, but good!” response when people asked me how I was doing just didn’t cut it this time. I was also surprised by how encouraging people were and how many people thanked me for my honesty. It’s not easy admitting I am weak, but I am so you might as well know the truth.
Well, there you go. These are 7 of the ways I’ve stayed healthy this season. What are the ways you stay healthy?
Be sure to stay tuned for more observations as I rest, decompress, and re-evaluate this busy season.