There are seasons in life where it seems like we are neglecting every possible thing that can be neglected. Eating, showering, doing laundry, and getting a few hours of sleep seem like tasks worth celebrating when our days are chaotic and messy. You probably have thought to yourself, “How can I possibly take better care of myself, my family, my house, my relationships, and everything else when I’m still learning how to function in a society and culture completely different than my own?”
I recently started to come out of a stress-filled and anxious season in my life where I found myself floundering and grasping for balance. Panic attacks had become a weekly occurrence that left me on edge, anticipating when the next one would occur. Everything in my life seemed to suffer—eating well, getting enough sleep, my relationships with others, my physical health, and my job. Despite the chaos and my fear that there wouldn’t be an end in sight, God provided healing from anxiety and new life as I learned more about trusting Him.
He also brought folks into my life that have taught me how to better balance and take care of the vessel He has given me, so I thought I would pass on some handy tips I’ve learned that I hope can help you out as well.
This one seems like a no brainer, but it is often the first aspect of our physical health that is neglected, especially during busy or transitional seasons. These are three things that have helped me immensely with being able to fall asleep and stay asleep, something that tends to be a struggle for me.
First, during the workweek I aim to get around 7-8 hours of sleep, which can often be tricky depending on how much lesson planning or grading needs my attention. I’ve found that I function quite well on around 7 hours of sleep, but if I get anything less than that I tend to drag through my day like a zombie.
Since I spend a lot of my day on my phone or laptop, the blue light on screens tends to keep me awake longer and prevents me from winding down. I came across an app called Flux that can be installed on your phone or laptop that slowly and progressively diminishes blue light a couple hours before bed. I’ve seen a difference and can’t recommend it enough. You can check the app out here and see how it works!
And if you are a fan of natural sleep aids, I recommend checking out Insomnitol. My mother sent it to me and it has also helped in being able to get to and stay asleep through the night.
When I am stressed or anxious, I tend to not have much of an appetite and having low blood sugar tends to make me lethargic and grumpy. A few months ago, I spoke with a nutritionist back in the States who recommended that I consume at least 60 grams of protein a day, aiming to get around 20 per meal. She also suggested that I eat within the first 30 minutes of being awake.
Initially, I wasn’t too interested in trying to implement this into my schedule since eating healthy was often difficult for me here in China and finding the time to cook breakfast before heading to work seemed impossible. But after trying it out, I noticed a huge difference in my energy levels as well as my mood!
Every morning I cook myself a breakfast burrito with eggs and potatoes (with a little bit of my favorite hot sauce) and it gives me the boost I need before a busy day of teaching. I’ve also gotten into batch cooking and meal prepping to guarantee that I get enough protein into my diet every day. There’s lots of great tips, tricks, and recipes online, but my favorite is from a couple on YouTube that make delicious meal preps, which you can check out here.
Spending time with the Lord is also something that I often neglect when life is crazy, but He is so gracious to me as He continues to provide opportunities to quiet my heart and mind. My mother recently sent me the devotional New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp which has encouraged and challenged me in my walk.
Prayer journaling is something that also shifts my perspective as I pour out my thoughts, worries, fears, praises, and prayers to the Lord. What I love most about prayer journaling is the ability to look back over the weeks, months, and years to see how God worked out stressful situations and answered prayers that seemed impossible. It is an opportunity to praise Him and trust Him with whatever is ahead.
Music is another tool God has used in drawing me close, and often He uses it to remind me to spend with Him. An album that I have recently been playing on repeat is Cory Asbury’s Reckless Love.
I hope that what I’ve shared is helpful in whatever kind of season you find yourself in!
What are some other areas of your life that are often neglected? How is God teaching you to better care for yourself and those around you?