We enjoyed breathing room, and we experienced life instead of trying to survive it.
One unexpected “benefit” of the global pandemic became undeniable: life slowed down. Cleared calendars led to family dinners around the table, tackling that home improvement project, rest, and relaxation without the FOMO (fear of missing out).
While I readily acknowledge working from home, homeschooling, and a health crisis provided unique challenges and stresses, many still welcomed the opportunity to “take a break” from the business of life.
Since returning to a relatively normal work week, school schedule, church gatherings, and social obligations, I reminisce on the slower days when activity didn’t fill every square inch of our calendar. We enjoyed breathing room, and we experienced life instead of trying to survive it. But, for the most part, we've picked up where we left off. Perhaps even busier in the attempt to make up for lost time, leaving many people physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.
So what do you do when your week, month, or season of life is non-stop, but your soul desperately needs a break?
1. Acknowledge, “I am not God.”
Often, we get ourselves in trouble when we try to take on attributes that aren’t meant for us. We try to be in two places at once (omnipresent), we want to be all things to everyone (omnipotent), we desire to control at all costs (sovereignty). Looking at your week, is there an area that you need to release over to God? When we surrender the need to have it all together, we become strong in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
2. Fuel your body.
I love the stories of Jesus feeding the five-thousand and four-thousand. Jesus knew the connection between feeding the physical body and the spiritual soul. We struggle to focus if we don’t have the proper nourishment. Consider prepping snacks ahead of time, ensuring you have something to give you a boost.
3. Don’t skimp on sleep.
When the week is packed, typically, the first thing to go is sleep. Let’s look at the story of Elijah. He is out in the desert, hiding from his enemies, in the middle of a spiritual wilderness. But what does the angel tell him to do? Eat something and get some sleep (1 Kings 19 1-8)! Our bodies need rest; it is a gift from a most gracious God; make an effort to prioritize your sleep.
4. Take a break from social media.
I find that even in my busiest of weeks, I still manage to sneak in social media. Typically, when I have a stressful week, I turn to those little squares to provide validation. “Yes, you are doing a good job; it’s going to be okay; at least you have it more together than her.” Avoid spending the precious pockets of time scrolling and comparing; it will only add to the week’s weariness.
5. Phone a friend.
Note: phone, not text. This is important because while a well-timed meme or barrage of emojis can elicit a smile, nothing is better than hearing an encouraging voice when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t dismiss the benefits of chatting with a fellow mom in the bleachers or a quick chat with the coffee barista to relieve the week’s tension. We are all desperate for human connection and conversation, and it’s incredible what just a few words can do to lift one’s spirits.
6. Listen to the Bible.
If sleep is the first thing to go when the calendar is packed, quiet time is the second. But, just because it’s not thirty minutes of uninterrupted reading and journaling doesn’t mean you have to forgo time with God altogether. Multiple apps allow you to listen to the Bible on your way to the office, in the car rider line, waiting for kids after soccer practice; all are perfect times to fill your soul with life-giving words of Scripture.
7. Recall your worth.
It’s easy to forget that our identity, our value, comes not from what we achieve, but who we are: daughters of a King. "Hustle," "live your best life now," "better than the rest" slogans decorate our coffee mugs and fill our feeds, convincing us that we can’t slow down. You are not defined by your job title, bank account, or position in life. Our Heavenly Father chose you before the beginning of time, and you are His child.
8. Take a walk outside.
There’s something about being outside that automatically slows down our racing hearts and quiets our thoughts. Perhaps it is the positive effects of vitamin D, the fresh air, or movement releasing more oxygen to our bodies, but we just feel better after physical activity. Can’t get outside? Hit the gym for thirty minutes, google a dance class, or simply do some jumping jacks in your living room. Your body (and soul) will thank you.
9. Attend a Bible study or small group.
Facetime, zoom, hangouts, don’t have anything on physically meeting with people. We saw the drastic effects isolation had during the pandemic on mental health. When we gather with a group of believers, it reminds us that we have the support and encouragement of the Church. We can share our burdens, ask for help, seek wise counsel, and request prayers when we feel overwhelmed.
10. Remember that nothing lasts forever.
At the moment, it may feel like you will never get a break; there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But we know that there’s a season for everything ( Ecclesiastes 3:1), and the good news is that no season (good or bad) lasts forever. During times of extreme busyness, prioritize the things that must get done and let go of the things that can wait until life slows down.
While this is not an exhaustive list, nor a guarantee balm for a weary soul, the hope is to encourage amid chaos. We will always experience a sense of unrest when we haven’t taken time to meet with our Heavenly Father. No matter how packed the day is, start and finish the day with prayer. Ask God to give you strength, to forgive you when you fail, and thank Him for His abundance of grace and mercy that renew daily.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Sasha_Suzi