10 Ways to Nurture Body, Mind, and Soul Every Day

10 Ways to Nurture Body, Mind, and Soul Every Day

10 Ways to Nurture Body, Mind, and Soul Every Day

The day began easily enough: lunches packed, kids dropped off at school, writing deadlines, and my to-do list ready to go. I had a list of things I knew that would help me with the overwhelm of mothering children, keeping a household running, investing in my church and community, as well as working from home. It was my “feel good” list — a list of daily habits to feed my body, soul, and mind.

The list read:

— Eat more vegetables; limit sugar; drink water

— Walk outside: be out in nature

— Read my Bible and pray

— Make time to be creative: Write during nap time

For once on this particular day, I actually checked off everything on my list. I drank my water and said no to the cookies. I read my Bible, prayed, and had time to write. I prioritized taking a walk around my suburban walking paths, knowing that I needed to move my body for optimal health. I noticed; I breathed, and yet by the end of the day I still found myself exhausted, annoyed, and angry at small things.

I thought a list of habits, rhythms, and practices would be the thing to transform me. In some ways, I was right. Tish Harrison Warren writes in her book, Liturgy of the Ordinary, “God is forming us into a new people. And the place of that formation is in the small moments of today.” We often like to think of God moving in the mountaintop experiences and epiphany moments. It’s true that He does, but He usually moves in still, quiet places and times — all as we go about our daily routines. It is in these small habits, weekly routines, and weekly worship gatherings that we are changed. But my problem had been seeing the list as the thing that would change me, rather than as an avenue for God to make the change to happen.

I made my list the destination, but it was only the vehicle.

Here are 10 ways to truly nurture your whole self.

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1. Before starting, realize that a list can’t save you.

1. Before starting, realize that a list can’t save you.

I realized that a list couldn’t save me. Even if I prioritized caring for my mind, body, and soul through intentional activities, simply doing these things wouldn’t entirely shape or change my character. No matter how much water I drank or Bible reading I did, there was still the matter of sin. And there was still the miracle of grace. Because of this, we can always begin again. How?  We say “I’m sorry;” we ask for forgiveness; and we intentionally practice biblical habits.  

So take these few things below as invitations — not rules or requirements. Think of them as lane line markers: lines to keep us safe and generally going in the right direction, but they’re not the goal or destination itself. They’re not love, or grace, or even the keys to personal transformation. They are small habits we can practice caring for our whole selves – mind, body, and soul – to be people who make room for God’s grace to meet us in every time and place. From these habits, and as we go about our days, may we learn to love God and our neighbor more fully.

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2. Start with quiet.

2. Start with quiet.

If you’re an introvert like me — or even if you’re not — starting your day in quiet can set you up for peace in your soul. It needn’t be hours. Rather than start with our phones or the crashing noises from children, just a few minutes to quiet your mind and heart and practice listening to God helps to give form to what we say we believe: that our primary identity is as a child of God. Like a child, we receive. The Bible uses this language: “like a weaned child is my soul within me,” Psalm 131:2.

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him." - Psalm 62:5

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3. Start with the Word.

3. Start with the Word.

In the tumult of a busy day it’s easy to let things like meditating on God’s word slip. Even if it’s a few Bible verses a day, make it a habit. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring your reading to mind as you’re going about your day.

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." - Romans 15:4

"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." - Psalm 119:11

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4. Start with water.

4. Start with water.

Our bodies aren’t mere containers for our minds or souls. They are gifts from God to steward well. Sometimes our bodies even signal what we’re feeling before our brains catch up. They also can store our repressed pain and trauma. Treat your body well. Tally up your glasses of water through the day and start your day with one nice, cold glass of water.

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5. Continue with health.

5. Continue with health.

Pick one healthy habit to implement and continue. That could be for your body, like creating flavorful dinners for your family or walking five days a week. Or choose a healthy soul habit, like taking time for silence, prayer, reading God’s word.

You could also challenge your mind by reading a thoughtful book, rather than watching another TV episode. Grace P. Cho put together a list, if you need a few suggestions for great Christian books that you might not have heard of before: "10 Books by Diverse Voices You Should Read This Year."

“Healthy” can’t just be a list of things we do. As we make concrete choices for our bodies, minds, and souls; we are developing character.

Photo Credit: Garon Piceli on Pexels

6. Move in nature.

6. Move in nature.

Every time I begin to get overwhelmed with the state of the world or the state of my soul, I try to take a walk. I’ve gone to the mountains when we lived in Utah, and now in California, I run away to the ocean when I’m feeling disconnected or listless.

Even a short walk around your neighborhood can reorient your heart. Listen to the birds singing or notice how a plant is blooming by your house. Simple acts like these reminds us that we are small and in charge of so little. “Yet not one of [the sparrows] will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows,” Matthew 10:29-31.

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7. Move with compassion.

7. Move with compassion.

Rather than seeing people as interruptions to your To Do List, consider ways to move towards people in compassion. Your children, your spouse, your neighbors and friends all need to be seen today. Keep a list of particular people you want to move toward in compassionate seeing today: your family, the homeless man on the corner, or the mom who needs a friend at the park. Often, shifting our attention beyond ourselves is just the health habit we need.

Praying for others is a great way not only to show compassion, but also for you to deepen and grow in compassion. Amelia Rhodes shared an exerpt of her book, Pray A to Z, with iBelieve readers. Check out, "10 Things to Help Focus Praying Over Your Community," to practice praying for the needs of people around you in ways you never considered before. 

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8. Make a practice of noticing.

8. Make a practice of noticing.

Slow down the frenetic pace of daily life by making it a practice to notice the sights, sounds, and views around you. Feel your toes as you take a walk, notice the sounds of your family, taste each bite as you chew. Watch for people who need help and as you notice your body, as you practice being present, we extend that presence to moving towards others rather than simply filling up on good things for ourselves.

"With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love..." - Ephesians 4:22

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger..." James 1:19

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9. End with thanksgiving.

9. End with thanksgiving.

At the end of the day, we gather around the table and share our highs and lows of the day. It allows our family to connect and gives everyone a safe space to process the day while maintaining gratitude. Write down a gratitude list or share your highs each day so you make thanksgiving a normal response to life on earth. As you pull back your sheets at night and get into bed, thank God for the gifts of body, mind, and soul that day.

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." - Colossians 4:2

"That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" - Psalm 30:12

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10. End with reflection.

10. End with reflection.

Each night I try to go through my day and pray an ancient prayer of contemplation called the Examen. There’s even an app for that. It’s a way to ask God to enter into the moments of our days, to replay our days through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be thankful and to confess. This allows the day to not simply slip by and be stacked like loose papers and put into a drawer. Instead, by inviting God into my moments of reflection, I notice the ways He’s already showed up in my life and how I can participate in what he’s doing in my soul, in my family, and in my neighborhood.  

Ashley Hales is a writer, speaker, church planter’s wife, and mom to 4 littles in southern California. Ashley has written for places such as The Gospel CoalitionBooks & Culture, and ThinkChristian and is writing her first book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs (IVP). Be sure to connect with her at her blogFacebook, or Twitter. Subscribe to get a free booklet on how to practice sustained attention and chase beauty right where you are. 

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About Health & Beauty

God's Word tells us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, that outward beauty is deceptive and fleeting while inward beauty is unfading and of great worth. It doesn't take long to look at today's media and see how the world is trying to convince us otherwise! Read uplifting and encouraging real life stories from Christian women about true beauty and health. Start seeing yourself as the women God created you to be!