The Busy Person's Guide to Soul Care
“Take care of yourself.”
“Put your oxygen mask on first.”
“You can't pour from an empty cup.”
“Give yourself a break.”
All good advice for busy people but if you’re anything like me most of the advice you've received about taking care of yourself feels like one more task on the list of things you don’t have time to accomplish. (Insert busy person guilt here.)
The thing is though, if we want to have the emotional bandwidth to engage with the world in a healthy way we need to know how to care for our souls. What's more, we can’t teach or model what we don’t know how to do for ourselves. Ouch, right?
It takes time to cultivate a healthy, resilient soul but what do you do when the nature of your life leaves little margin for anything other than just getting to the next thing? My suggestion:
Start small, right where you are.
Here are nine ideas to incorporate soul care into your life... even right this second. Hint: You only need to choose one.
If You Have Less Than Three Minutes
Breathe Deeply - Inhale through your nose for four counts. Exhale through your mouth for four counts. Repeat two times. Then inhale and exhale as you slowly count to ten. Inhale, one. Exhale, two. Inhale, three. And so on. When you get to ten, stop for a moment to notice (without judgment) how you feel after this exercise.
Relax the Muscles in Your Body - Beginning at the top of your head consciously relax the muscles in your body. If it helps, tense the muscle first then relax it. Relax your forehead, relax your eyes, relax your mouth, relax your shoulders, and so on until you reach your toes. Take a moment to notice how you feel after this exercise before moving on with your day.
Turn Your Phone to Silent - Set an alarm on your phone for one to three hours from now. Silence your phone. Walk away from that tiny little tyrant, stuff it in a drawer, toss it in your purse... just leave it alone until the alarm goes off.
If You Have About 30 Minutes
Take a Walk - Go for a walk with the intended purpose of noticing what you experience as you walk. What colors do you see? What haven’t you noticed before? How does the air feel? What do you hear? If you find yourself distracted by your thoughts gently bring yourself back to noticing what’s around you.
Read a Book For Fun - Whatever book you read (or listen to) choose it purely for personal enjoyment. Bonus points if it’s an actual book with paper pages.
Pray. Meditate. Journal. - Talk to God about your life and our world then listen for him to speak to your spirit. Repeat a favorite verse or saying, pausing to concentrate on each word. Write about your life, feelings, what you’re learning and who you’re becoming.
If You Have a Few Hours
Go out with a friend. - Please tell me you don’t need instructions for this. Just make sure it's a relationship that fills you up.
Do something you love to do. - Play is the soul work of childhood and it turns out adults can benefit from it too. Create. Hike. Fish. Write. Sing. Garden. Read. Play. The only rule is you’re going to do something purely for the joy of doing it.
Try something new. - Maybe there’s a trail you’ve wanted to explore, a class you want to take, a museum to see or anything else you can dream up. Whatever you choose, learning and growing are good for the soul.
Don’t be overwhelmed by this list.
Overwhelm is the opposite of soul care. These are ideas meant only as a starting place. Choose one, tweak it so it works for you, then take the time to care for your soul. You can't afford not to.
If you feel like you can’t even find three minutes to take care of yourself please reach out for help. You don’t need to suffer alone. Send me a message. I can help.
How do you make time for soul care? What would you add to this list?