Self-Care: Monday Monologues, July 22, 2019 (podcast)

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflection on self-care.

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Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Self-Care: Monday Monologues, July 22, 2019 (podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/HotWeather_2019

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Self-Care

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Living in ChristBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Christian leaders need to be self-aware and take care of themselves. Self-care is as easy as practicing Sabbath rest (Exod 20:8-11) and its significance arises because tired people can neither love God nor their neighbor (Matt 22:36-40). In a deeper sense, we are obligated to care for ourselves and shun sin because our bodies and minds are a temple for the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). Still, in spite of the biblical warrant for self-care, Christian leaders are routinely workaholics and stress addicted, suffering burnout to the point of threatening the ongoing viability of their ministries.

Burnout and Temptation

We are most vulnerable to temptation and sin when our bodies and minds are tired. It is ironic that we think of fasting as a spiritual discipline because fasting weakens our resistance to temptation and sin. After his baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert where he fasted for forty days and the devil tempted three times (Luke 4:1-13). Nouwen (2002, 30,53,75) describes these temptations as the leadership challenges to be relevant, popular, and powerful.

It is widely reported that pastoral burnout often leads to sexual misconduct and departure from ministry. Two pastors close to me early in my career likely succumbed to this temptation. One engaged in a homosexual liaison only to loose his marriage, his job, and, later, his life—he died of AIDS. The other divorced his wife and ran away with a woman in the congregation. Both pastors mentored me for years so I know that such behavior was not typical or expected, but burnout and stress brings out the worst in a person.

I have for years advised seniors that three things were needed for a successful retirement: physical activity, mental stimulation, and connection. For seniors, these three things are need to live a normally, healthy life. They are just as necessary for a healthy life at younger ages, but normally younger people have greater reserves than seniors. Unhealthy lifestyles can, however, cut into reserves at any age.

Physical Activity

Routine, strenuous exercise builds physical capacity by enhancing blood flow, reducing fat, and curbing appetite. It also builds mental capacity in the same manner and by increasing self-esteem. Even moderate physical activity, such walking with your spouse in the evening, can have a positive impact on attitude and physical fitness.

The impact of physical fitness (or lack thereof) on mental agility is directly observable in older people.⁠1 “Sunset dementia” is a condition where seniors are able to remember things and manage life easily during the day but as the afternoon and evening approaches they begin suffering forgetfulness not observed earlier in the day. The condition is perhaps analogous to a younger person drinking a couple beers or suffering sleep deprivation over multiple days in terms of the lost mental capability.

In my own case, appetite is the best indicator of my physical and mental well-being. When I suffer burnout, I eat too much and skimp on my exercise routine. If this goes on too long, I put on extra pounds. Alternatively, the last time I took a consulting assignment I focused so intensely on my work during those three months that lost ten pounds without thinking about it.

Mental Stimulation

As mentioned above, physical activity has a direct, beneficial effect on mental agility. Exercise cleans the plack out of your veins and widens them increasing oxygen flow. This is especially important for mental condition because the brain is single, largest user of blood flow in the body. The more oxygen available to the brain, the clearer our thinking.

The relationship between physical fitness and mentality agility became obvious to me when I was a foreign exchange student for a year in Germany. Germans love to drink beer and play chess so I spent my evenings in local bars playing chess and practicing my German—sober I was too shy at first to speak in my broken German. After several months of drinking beer and playing chess daily, I was unbeatable, but only for the first two to three hours of play. After three hours of playing chess, even known rookies could beat me so I learned to quit after two hours of play.

Beyond physical exercise, the mind also needs a workout. The brain is a physical organ that atrophies with inactivity just like a muscle. In kids under six years old, musical training is known to enhance thinking until much later in life because music employs the entire brain the way that swimming employs the entire body and assure that synapses develop with this wholistic process being employed. For the rest of us, mental exercises, like learning new languages or subjects, alters the brain’s physical structure enhancing our abilities in those directions but also stimulating other parts of the brain to remain fit. Even brain diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, that cannot be cured are thought to be delayed in their onset by physical and mental exercise.

Connection

Being socially active is important for older people to avoid loneliness and depression, but it is no less important for younger people. It is well-known among educators that college freshman who find clubs and groups to join are much more likely to make a successful transition to college and avoid dropping out.

For seniors, researchers at Duke University (1999) reported:

A study of nearly 4,000 elderly North Carolinians has found that those who attended religious services every week were 46 percent⁠2 less likely to die over a six-year period than people who attended less often or not at all, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

While Christians recognize the role of faith in life expectancy, even, even an atheist will recognize the benefits of having close friends and other people who care for you. Life is simply less stressful when you know that that you can share your trials and tribulations with others.

Good Example

For the Christian leader, practicing self-care obviously enhances one’s durability in ministry, but it is also an important area to model a balanced lifestyle in front of others. It it important to note that this modeling extends beyond the Christian community.

Postmodern people are more anxious and depressed than most previous generations because they are more likely  to be cutoff from traditional society, their families, their faith communities, and the communities that they grew up in. These sources of stress and others conspire together to produce historically unprecedentedly levels of suicide. 

In this context, Christians need together with their leaders to demonstrate what a balanced lifestyle looks like. Who knows who’s life will be spared if we do? The life you save may be your own! After all, burnout comes as more than just a cost to us as individuals.

References

Crowley, Chris and Henry S. Lodge. 2007. Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy–Until You’re 80 and Beyond. Male and Female editions. New York:  Workman Publishing.

Duke University. 1999. “Religious Attendance Linked to Lower Mortality in Elderly.” Updated:  January 20, 2016. Online: https://corporate.dukehealth.org/news-listing/religious-attendance-linked-lower-mortality-elderly Accessed: 18 January 2019.

Nouwen, Henri J.M. 2002. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company.

Smith, Houston. 2001. Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief. San Francisco: Harper.

Footnotes

1 Crowley and Lodge (2007, 7) make an audacious claim:  over 50 percent of all illness and injuries in the last third of your life can be eliminated by changing your lifestyle.  What changes do they recommend?  A big part of their advice is regular, strenuous exercise  including resistance training.  What is regular?  At least six days a week.  What is strenuous?  Exercise able to provide an aerobic effect.  What is resistance training?  They recommend a program of weight lifting.  If you follow their advice, then you can remain like a physically fit, 50 year-old well past the age of 80.

2 Smith (2001, 44) reported the original findings in this study as 28 percent, which substantially underestimated the final number of 46 percent.

Self-Care

Also See:

Value Of Life

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/HotWeather_2019

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Shape Your Wish List to With Ideas to Boost Your Self-Care Goals by Julie Morris

Photo_Pixabay_12152017
Photo by Pixabay

By Julie Morris, Guest Blogger

Julie Morris (read more) is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison. Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book.

Introduction

With New Year’s looming just around the corner, you may find yourself brainstorming resolutions that will help you become a better you. Even if you aren’t comfortable making resolutions, a brand new year offers the perfect time to focus on self-improvement, and the right holiday gift can help get you started. Whether you are looking to stress less or simply carve out more time for yourself amongst your busy schedule, these suggestions will help you create the ultimate self-improvement wish list.

Strive for Stress Reduction

Let’s be honest, we would all love to stress a little less, but we often find ourselves stressing about finding a way to stress less. A great way to melt away worry and gain some perspective along the way is by writing in a journal. A journal is a wonderful tool for self-reflection and a great way to gain insight into your unspoken wants and needs. Perhaps you would prefer a journal filled with inspirational quotes to promote self-discovery through guided reflections or a journal that speaks to your ever-organized personality by prompting a daily list of what makes you happy.

If you don’t enjoy writing, an adult coloring book is a good option. Whether you prefer to color intricate designs, soothing illustrations, or even bring to life your favorite film, you’ll find something that captures your attention and lets your creativity run wild, all while helping you enter a meditative state of bliss. There are plenty of stress-relief gifts you can put on your wish list such as bath bombs, massage gadgets, or a leather-bound keepsake Bible – check out this list for more ideas.

Find More Time

Right up there with stress-relief is the desire for more time. It seems there is never enough time in the day to get everything done, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. While you can’t be given the literal gift of time, there are ways to help you reorganize the 24 hours you currently own each day. Start by looking at the areas in your life that you struggle with the most. Perhaps you’ve found yourself opting for the ease of fast food rather than preparing a home-cooked (and healthy) meal. In today’s world, we can get just about anything delivered, including meals. A home delivery service, like Blue Apron, takes out the meal planning and grocery store trip, delivering ingredients and easy-to-understand instructions right to your door. Blue Apron tops Redfin’s list for the perfect gifts for folks who prefer to stay at home.

Ideas

Maybe you could use some help being more productive with a customized planner or online personal development course in a topic of your choice. A few ideas are organization, productivity, and mindfulness. As your craft your list, don’t forget to think about the things you wish you had more time to do such as exercise or read. A fitness tracker will encourage accountability, making it less likely that you’ll skip out on the gym or your weekly yoga class. You could even turn it into a friendly competition by including family and friends. If your goal is to read more, a tablet or e-reader may help. You can read whenever and wherever you have free time.

This year, mold your list to help you achieve your personal or spiritual goals. You have the power to shape any area of your life you choose, so make sure your wish list reflects your goals and aspirations. There is never a wrong time for self-improvement, and combined with the holidays, you have a recipe for success.

 

Shape Your Wish List to With Ideas to Boost Your Self-Care Goals by Julie Morris

Also see:

Self-Care: A Prayer for the Little Things 

Prayer for Shalom 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2fEPbBK

Continue Reading

Self-Care: A Prayer for the Little Things

Doldrums, Sand Dune in Ocean City, MarylandHoly Father,

I praise you for the quiet days, when I am able to practice self-care, my world seems peaceful, and my mind is at ease.

Forgive my selfish inability to focus on the noise around me, other people’s pain, wars around me, and the distress of so many others.

I give thanks that the weight of the world is on your shoulders,

because I cannot bear it—not today, not ever.

For you alone are God and I can never be.

In the power of the Holy Spirit, help me to be faithful servant in the ways that you made me to be.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Self-Care: A Prayer for the Little Things

Also see:

End Prayer Shaming

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2fEPbBK

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