What If You Allowed Yourself to Just Breathe?

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"Why don't you slow down and take a breather?" Susan asked as Dave walked in the door, his sweat-soaked shirt sticking to his body.

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"I can't really afford to sit down right now.” As Dave shut the door behind him, the hot desert air seemed to recede as the atmosphere of the house returned to a comfortable temperature. “I just came from Abdullah's house to help patch his roof and now I have to prepare for the men's Bible study tonight and finish my sermon for tomorrow.”

"I just feel like you’re driving yourself into the ground," said Susan. "You look exhausted!"

“I am, but what choice do I have?” Dave asked. “Our supporters are looking for progress and if we don't come up with more results, we’ll lose our funding and have to go home. Is that what you want?"

How often do we find ourselves saying "I'm exhausted!" "I don't know if I can do this," or "This is too much." Most often, those things are said in times of high stress, something that often abounds in cross-cultural contexts. In a culture that values hard work and success, striving for results can often supersede basic needs in life. Maybe you find yourself missing lunch more often than not because you need to help someone with a problem, meet a deadline, or finish a project. Often when we experience strong pressure to get results, we put our self-care aside to accomplish what we need to because we "don't have time" to add something else that is for ourselves. It seems selfish when there are people who need our help and we have felt called to help those people.

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But what happens when you hit a wall where you can't give anymore without being refilled yourself? When we use up our energy resources without allowing ourselves to recharge, we tend to burn out, or to break down over time. When we learn to intentionally breathe, even just for a few moments, it lowers our stress levels and can help us to function better for the tasks we have on our growing to-do lists. When we allow ourselves to be filled up, even just for a bit, we have space for ourselves to grow so that we can better love and serve others.

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What would it be like for you to recharge your batteries? A great place to start would be to ask yourself, "What gives me energy?" Then allow yourself the space and time, whether it be working it into your schedule, or saying no, or rescheduling things that can wait. Go for a run, read a really good adventure book, work on a puzzle, have a cup of coffee with a good friend and share your dreams with them. Prioritize your self-care; invest time in developing energy-giving rhythms. If you want to go a step further, ask yourself what fills you up in specific areas? We are designed as holistic beings; we have our physical nature, mind, heart/emotions, and spirit. What does it look like to arrive at a place where you feel filled up physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually? What can you do—or stop doing—to get there?

This is the introduction to our series on improving self-care practices to help you thrive! In the future we will be introducing more practical ways to help you answer the bolded questions above, so stay tuned!

If you found this helpful, but would like to meet with someone in person or over video to explore more about your experience and other tools to help you thrive, click here and Get Started.