Although many of us hope that summer will be a season of rest and renewal, the truth is that sometimes the summer months are packed with more activities than we can count. If you’re finding yourself stretched thin, I hope that this piece of mine from Today’s Christian Woman will offer you some practical ways to refresh your soul in the midst of the craziness of life.
You can read the whole article here!
Most days, it seems like there’s not quite enough time to accomplish everything we need—or want—to do. It might be that we’re juggling kids, a marriage, and a dog; or it might be that we’re trying to balance classes and friendships and work; or that we’re living in the tension between our professional and personal lives. Whatever roles and responsibilities we carry, we have all experienced that nagging feeling that we’re not doing enough.
So it may seem counterintuitive to suggest that what we actually need is more refreshment. It may sound, in fact, like an unattainable luxury: to refresh ourselves when there are things to get done. It’s easier to put our own lives on hold when the kids are screaming, when the deadline is looming, when the bills are overdue.
We can’t put our need for refreshment on pause forever, though many of us feel as if we have to do just that. I’ve struggled with the tension of wanting to renew my soul but feeling guilty about the desire to do “something for myself.” As I’ve learned the hard way, though, things that refresh my body, mind, and soul aren’t luxuries. They are necessary for long-term health and wholeness—just as necessary as food and sleep. Go without refreshment too long, and you’ll find yourself exhausted and fried.
One problem is that we associate refreshment with big trips or expensive experiences—and those seem unattainable. What we need instead are smaller, more consistent ways to refresh in the midst of our everyday lives, and that doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. Here are five ways to refresh when you don’t have time to slow down.
1. Listen to Scripture
If your time to read the Bible is rushed or nonexistent, consider downloading a Bible-reading app to your phone or computer. Find a version of the Bible that you love, and start listening before you pull out of the driveway on your morning commute or while you’re on your way to drop off kids at school.
We’d all like to have time to study the Bible deeply, but listening to the Bible is another way to concentrate on Scripture in the midst of full days. This listening can keep us focused on “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable”—the things that we are called to “think about” (Philippians 4:8). Consistently hearing the Scripture fills our minds—and hearts—with God’s truth, and that truth will refresh and sustain us in a soul-nourishing way that nothing else can.
2. Put Your Feet Up for Five Minutes
Whether you close the door to your office and put your feet on your desk or hop on your favorite couch at home, get your feet off the floor. Put your phone down and turn it on silent (it’s only five minutes, remember?), close your eyes, and focus on breathing.
Rest is good for our brains and our souls. A University of Illinois study points out that taking short breaks enables us to stay focused over the course of a long project. Similarly, a writer for the New York Times argues that idleness is good for us, stating that “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole.”
Scripture helps us see our lives as a whole, too. When we step back from the minutiae of our lives to consider the vast world God has created, we can rest in his mindfulness of us (Psalm 8:3-4) and in his ability to hold the world together—a refreshing truth and something we don’t have to accomplish on our own (Colossians 1:15-17).
3. Spark Your Senses
God created us to experience the world through all of our senses. If you are calmed or invigorated by a certain scent, for example, invest in a fragrant candle and light it during a particularly stressful part of your day. If you can’t have flames in your workspace, consider melting wax pods, which release the aroma of a candle without the fire.
Similarly, if you are refreshed by the mountains or the ocean but can’t look out your window and see them, purchase a photo of a beautiful place and put it in your office or by the kitchen sink.
Music, too, can be a powerful way for us to refresh our souls. One study showed that playing music can decrease anxiety, even in an environment as stressful as an emergency room. Even if we must be in a stressful environment, it may be possible to turn music on in the background, or in headphones. Choose music that encourages you and lifts your spirits.
Read the rest of the article here, at Today’s Christian Woman!